The summer transition is an absolutely crucial time for WSL clubs, with the near season often marking significant changes for teams up and down the league.
The recruitment is to make or break for the upcoming season, whether it is challenging for the title, to compete for European places, break into the top half or simply stay in the league. Everything is relatively dependent on the expectations of each club.
Here’s a look at how all 12 WSL clubs rank according to how good – or disappointing – their summer has been …
IN: Natasha Dowie, Gemma Evans, Faye Bryson, Chloe Peplow, Deanne Rose
Out: Fara Williams, Angharad James, Lauren Bruton, Molly Bartrip, Kristine Leine, Erin Nayler
The reading is probably worse than last season. Striker Natasha Dowie has scored goals everywhere she’s been, but that’s if the Royals squad has enough quality to give her the right service.
Replacing Fara Williams will always be a near impossible task, especially the same summer that lost midfielder Angharad James, and they have not really been able to.
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
Losing first team players to other WSL clubs, especially Aston Villa, is obviously not perfect for Birmingham, who will once again be among the early favorites to be relegated to the ladies’ championship.
They have had to play a bit in the hunt for replacements, largely selected players from a lower level, or who were on the fringes of other clubs.
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 some summer repairs since last season’s eighth place in the WSL represented a step backwards compared to the year before.
Time will tell whether the volume of change is right or too much. From a quality perspective, they have brought in several players with WSL experience, but whether it is a noticeable step up is unclear.
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 hope it’s quality over quantity when it comes to incoming signings, with Vicky Losada returning to the WSL from Barcelona and Hayley Raso switching Everton to the sky blues.
Outgoing, Rose Lavelle’s departure is not a big loss despite her reputation. City fans would have preferred Sam Mew to stay, but the most defensive is a defensive emigration that leaves the squad shortly behind.
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 bit since last season but have worked hard to try to bring in replacements who will improve the squad.
Getting Lisa Evans 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.
IN: Mana Iwabuchi, Nikita Parris, Simone Boye Sorensen, Frida Maanum
Out: Jill Roord, Leonie Maier, Ruby Mace, Danielle van de Donk, Lisa Evans
Arsenal have 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, especially the latter. Fans are also disappointed that teenage star Ruby Mace has joined rivals Manchester City.
IN: Wild 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 the new Norwegian midfielder Vilde Boe Risa during the pre-season, while Hannah Blundell, Sophie Baggaley and Aoife Mannion are all proven WSL players.
IN: Jess Sigsworth, Jemma Purfield, Georgia Brougham, Abbi Grant, Molly Pike, Abbie McManus
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 throw 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 already know this level.
Jess Sigsworth and Abbie McManus’ arrivals from Manchester United stand out especially for Foxes.
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 won. But without a doubt, everyone who has left the club has joined clubs at a lower level than the Seagulls are at.
Danielle Carter promises to be a good signing from Reading, while the highly ranked Rinsola Babajide, on loan from Liverpool, gets the chance to prove herself in the WSL once again.
IN: Aniek Nouwen, Lauren James
Out: Jamie-Lee Napier, Hannah Blundell, Emily Murphy, Agnes Beever-Jones, Charlotte Wardlaw, Emily Orman
It has not been a hectic summer for Chelsea as it is not easy to find ways to improve a squad that has won the last two WSL titles and reached the Champions League final in May.
Aniek Nouwen is a Dutch international defender with long-term potential, while Lauren James is without a doubt the best young talent that England has ever produced and will only get better under Emma Hayes’ leadership.
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 the last day of last season and have worked hard to strengthen the squad so that they can now continue, just as has happened with the men’s club since 2020.
There is a special reason for the fans to be happy about the arrival of the Swiss international Alisha Lehmann and the emerging goalkeeper star Hannah Hampton. But many other new faces offer proven WSL experience.
IN: Kenza Dali, Toni Duggan, Anna Anvegard, Nathalie Bjorn, Leonie Maier, Courtney Brosnan, Aurora Galli, Cecilia Ran Runarsdottir
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 in recent years and are determined to qualify for the Champions League. They have specifically targeted international actors of proven quality to make it happen.
Toni Duggan’s return to his first club is perhaps the biggest headline, but Kenza Dali knows WSL, as does Leonie Maier, while Anna Anvegard and Nathalie Bjorn have experience in the Champions League. The only disappointing departure is Hayley Raso, who has joined Manchester City.
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