What are the most influential Barclays FA Women's Super League transfers?

Pernille Harder, Chelsea Women
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Recent years have seen bigger and bigger names arrive in the Barclays FA Women's Super League, as the attraction of the league has grown.

These are some of the transfers in recent years that, for a variety of reasons, have been the biggest and boldest about.

Vivianne Miedema (Bayern Munich to Arsenal)

In 2017, Vivianne Miedema arrived at Arsenal from Bayern Munich, and quickly established herself as a Barclays FA Women's Super League legend. Now the league's all-time top scorer, her precision and reliability in front of goal makes this one of English women's football's best ever transfers.

Lucy Bronze (Lyon to Manchester City, 2020)

Lucy Bronze's return to Manchester City from Lyon in 2020 was a blockbuster move. Already arguably one of the world's best players when she made the switch to France in 2017, her three years with Lyon saw a trophy haul that included three league titles and three Champions Leagues, and the England right-back's homecoming was as an undisputed football elite – she was voted Best FIFA Women's  Player in 2020.

Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride to Tottenham, 2020)

Alex Morgan's stay in the Barclays FA Women's Super League may have been short – she made just five appearances for Tottenham – but she made her mark. Arriving in England as one of the biggest names in football, and with nothing to prove, injuries hampered her impact on the pitch. Off the pitch, however, she has been credited with helping the push for Tottenham Women to have access to the same training facilities as the men's team – a move that happened in late 2020.

Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns to Manchester United, 2020, and Manchester United to Arsenal, 2021)

Tobin Heath's move to Manchester United – along with United States team-mate Christen Press – was a big sign that United were a new force to be reckoned with. Heath picked up the Barclays FA Women's Super League Player of the Month award for November 2020, before injury cut short her time in the north west.

A switch to high-flying Arsenal in 2021 was huge – it meant one of the biggest names in the sport was staying in the English league, and added even more threat to Arsenal's already impressive forward line.

Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg to Chelsea, 2020)

When Chelsea signed Pernille Harder in the summer of 2020, she became reportedly the most expensive women's transfer of all time.

Most women's football players are signed for free, with global spending on transfer fees only amounting to £0.88m in 2020, according to FIFA – and just five transfers alone made up 75 per cent of that total.  

Chelsea made history when they paid a fee reported to be in excess of £250,000 to Wolfsburg in order to make Pernille Harder the most expensive women's transfer of all time. Harder has long been regarded as one of the best footballers in Europe, having won the UEFA Women's Player of the Year award twice. 

Valerie Gauvin (Montpellier to Everton, 2020)

The same summer that Chelsea signed Harder, Everton also turned heads when they paid around €100,000 to sign French international Valerie Gauvin from Montpelier. The striker had scored 14 goals in 16 appearances for the French club as well as featuring at the Women's World Cup. She went on to score for Everton in the Vitality Women's FA Cup final, although her side eventually losing to Manchester City.

Lauren James (Manchester United to Chelsea, 2021)

Chelsea continued to splash the cash in 2021 by signing Lauren James from Manchester United, in a deal expected to be worth up to £200,000. The 20-year-old, whose brother Reece is also at Chelsea, is highly regarded as one of the brightest young British talents, and the signing is the most expensive women's transfer between two Barclays FA Women's Super League clubs. 

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Jessy Parker Humphreys is a freelance women's football writer. A Chelsea fan, Jessy has been following the women's game since being taken to the 2003/04 FA Cup final at Loftus Road and seeing Arsenal thrash Jessy's local side Charlton. Fortunately, Arsenal don't win quite as much as they used to – although Jessy hopes Charlton will also be back at the top of the women's game one day.