Women's Football

WSL clubs’ summer transfer windows - ranked

Jamie Spencer
Alisha Lehmann is one of several big signings for Aston Villa
Alisha Lehmann is one of several big signings for Aston Villa / Cameron Smith/Getty Images

The summer transfer is an absolutely crucial time for WSL clubs, with the close-season often marking significant changes for squads up and down the league.

Recruitment is make or break for the season ahead, whether that be challenging for the title, competing for European places, breaking into the top half, or simply staying in the league. It’s all relative depending on the expectations places on each club.

Here’s a look at how all 12 WSL clubs rank by how good – or disappointing – their summer has been…

12. Reading

In: Natasha Dowie, Gemma Evans, Faye Bryson, Chloe Peplow, Deanne Rose

Out: Fara Williams, Angharad James, Lauren Bruton, Molly Bartrip, Kristine Leine, Erin Nayler

Reading are probably worse off than they were last season. Striker Natasha Dowie has scored goals everywhere she has been, but it is whether the Royals squad has enough quality to provide her with the right service.

Replacing Fara Williams was always going to be a close to impossible task, especially in the same summer as losing fellow midfielder Angharad James, and they haven't really been able to.

11. Birmingham

In: Jade Pennock, Louise Quinn, Lucy Quinn, Sarah Ewens, Libby Smith, Cecilie Sandvej, Emily Ramsey, Lisa Robertson

Out: Heidi Logan, Hannah Hampton, Sarah Mayling, Claudia Walker, Mollie Green, Abbi Grant, Emma Kelly, Sophie Whitehouse, Connie Scofield

Losing first-team players to other WSL clubs, particularly Aston Villa, obviously isn't ideal for Birmingham, who will once more be among the early favourites to be relegated to the Women's Championship.

They have had to gamble a bit in the search for replacements, largely opting for players from a lower level, or who were on the fringe at other clubs.

10. Tottenham

In: Cho So-hyun, Maeva Clemaron, Tinja-Riikka Korpela, Molly Bartrip, Tang Jiali, Gracie Pearse, Chioma Obogagu, Asmita Ale, Kyah Simon, Eleanor Heeps

Out: Rianna Dean, Alanna Kennedy, Gemma Davison, Anna Filbey, Hannah Godfrey, Lucia Leon, Aurora Mikalsen, Chloe Peplow, Lucy Quinn, Siri Worm, Elisha Sulola, Gracie Pearse, Eleanor Heeps

Tottenham have had a bit of a summer overhaul since last season's eighth place WSL finish represented a step backwards on the year before.

Time will tell if the volume of change is the right thing to do or too much. From a quality perspective, they have brought in several players with WSL experience, but whether that is a noticeable step up is unclear.

9. Manchester City

In: Ruby Mace, Khadija Shaw, Vicky Losada, Hayley Raso

Out: Sam Mewis, Rose Lavelle,
Gemma Bonner, Megan Campbell, Aoife Mannion, Lee Geum-min, Tyler Tolan, Abby Dahlkemper

Manchester City will hope it is quality over quantity in terms of incoming signings, with Vicky Losada returning to the WSL from Barcelona and Hayley Raso swapping Everton for the sky blues.

Outgoing, the departure of Rose Lavelle is no great loss despite her reputation. City fans would have preferred Sam Mew stayed, but most concerning is a defensive exodus that leaves the squad short at the back.

8. West Ham

In: Tameka Yallop, Zaneta Wyne, Claudia Walker, Melissa Filis, Abbey-Leigh Stringer, Lucy Parker, Anna Leat, Lisa Evans, Yui Hasegawa

Out: Courtney Brosnan, Kenza Dali, Leanne Kiernan, Cecilie Redisch, Martha Thomas, Laura Vetterlein, Emily van Egmond, Alisha Lehmann, Cho So-hyun, Maz Pacheco

West Ham have lost quite a lot since last season but have worked hard trying to bring in replacements that will improve the squad.

Getting Lisa Evans in on loan from Arsenal could be a coup for the Hammers as she had still been a key player for the Gunners until fairly recently.

7. Arsenal

In: Mana Iwabuchi, Nikita Parris, Simone Boye Sorensen, Frida Maanum

Out: Jill Roord, Leonie Maier, Ruby Mace, Danielle van de Donk, Lisa Evans

Arsenal agreed a deal worth up to £86,000 to bring Nikita Parris back to England from Lyon, while Mana Iwabuchi adds proven international quality and Danish defender Simon Boye Sorensen adds experience at the back.

However, the loss of midfielders Jill Roord and Danielle van de Donk is a big blow, particularly the latter. Fans are also disappointed that teenage starlet Ruby Mace has joined direct rivals Manchester City.

6. Manchester United

In: Vilde Boe Risa, Hannah Blundell, Sophie Baggaley, Aiofe Mannion

Out: Jess Sigsworth, Jane Ross, Christen Press, Tobin Heath, Amy Turner, Lauren James, Abbie McManus

Manchester United have lost four top quality and players in Amy Turner, Lauren James, Tobin Heath and Christen Press, which is a blow.

However, fans have already been impressed by new Norwegian midfielder Vilde Boe Risa in pre-season, while Hannah Blundell, Sophie Baggaley and Aoife Mannion are all proven top WSL players.

5. Leicester

In: Jess Sigsworth, Jemma Purfield, Georgia Brougham, Abbi Grant, Molly Pike, Abbie McManus, Connie Scofield

Out: Remi Allen, Charlotte Fleming, Grace Riglar, Lia Cataldo, Freya Thomas, Aimee Everett, Millie Farrow, Olivia Fergusson, Libby Smith, Holly Morgan

Leicester were always likely to shed a few players after securing promotion to the WSL, with perhaps midfielder Remi Allen the only significant loss. But what they have done is add players who know this level already.

The arrivals of Jess Sigsworth and Abbie McManus from Manchester United stand out for the Foxes in particular.

4. Brighton

In: Danielle Carter, Rinsola Babajide, Lee Geum-min

Out: Kirsty Barton, Jodie Brett, Cecilie Fiskererstrand, Rianna Jarrett, Nora Heroum, Laura Rafferty, Bethan Roe, Rebekah Stott, Ellie Hack

In terms of numbers alone, Brighton have lost more than they have gained. But arguably all of those that have left the club have gone on to join clubs at a lower level than the Seagulls are at.

Danielle Carter promises to be a good signing from Reading, while the highly-rated Rinsola Babajide, on loan from Liverpool, gets a chance to prove herself in the WSL once more.

3. Chelsea

In: Aniek Nouwen, Lauren James

Out: Jamie-Lee Napier, Hannah Blundell, Emily Murphy, Agnes Beever-Jones, Charlotte Wardlaw, Emily Orman

It hasn't been a busy summer for Chelsea because finding ways to improve a squad that has won the last two WSL titles and reached the Champions League final in May isn't easy.

Aniek Nouwen is a Dutch international defender of long-term potential, while Lauren James is arguably the best young talent that England has ever produced and will only get better under Emma Hayes' guidance.

2. Aston Villa

In: Alisha Lehmann, Remi Allen, Sarah Mayling, Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, Meghan Sargeant, Hannah Hampton, Maz Pacheco

Out: Ella Franklin-Fraiture, Emma Follis, Amy West, Caroline Siems, Diane Silva, Mana Iwabuchi, Nadine Hanssen, Stine Larsen, Asmita Ale

Aston Villa survived on the final day of last season and have worked hard to strengthen the squad to allow them to now kick on, exactly as has happened with the men's club since 2020.

There is a particular reason for fans to be excited about the arrivals of Switzerland international Alisha Lehmann and emerging goalkeeper star Hannah Hampton. But plenty other new faces offer proven WSL experience.

1. Everton

In: Kenza Dali, Toni Duggan, Anna Anvegard, Nathalie Bjorn, Leonie Maier, Courtney Brosnan, Aurora Galli, Cecilia Ran Runarsdottir, Hanna Bennison

Out: Ingrid Moe Wold, Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, Georgia Brougham, Maeva Clemaron, Tinja-Riikka Korpela, Molly Pike, Hannah Coan, Anna Pedersen, Abbey-Leigh Stringer, Elise Hughes, Hayley Raso

Everton have improved massively over the last couple of years and are determined to qualify for the Champions League. They have specifically targeted top international players of proven quality to make that happen.

Toni Duggan's return to her first club is perhaps the biggest headline, but Kenza Dali knows the WSL, as does Leonie Maier, while Anna Anvegard and Nathalie Bjorn have Champions League experience. The only disappointing departure is Hayley Raso, who has joined Manchester City.

Just when it looked the Toffees were done with their summer business, they announced the 'six figure' signing of Swedish prodigy Hanna Bennison.

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