The Biggest Signings in Women's Super League History - Ranked

Many facets of the women's game have blossomed over the course of the last decade as the Women's Super League has grown: from attendances to media coverage, TV audiences to public interest.

Traditionally, the biggest transfers in the women's game involved Arsenal raiding other sides in the top flight for the cream of the crop and then winning the league. Again.

But as the profile of the WSL has increased, so has the profile of transfers that are being pulled off. From rivals stealing key players from one another, to the coup of a big name overseas star, let's take a look at the biggest statement signings in WSL history.

11 - Jackie Groenen (Frankfurt - Manchester United, 2019)

Manchester United's first ever overseas recruit was a big one. Jackie Groenen was United's first internationally acclaimed signing. The midfielder had been an integral part of the Holland side that had blown away the rest of the competition with their blistering attacking football en route to winning the 2017 European Championships, playing every minute and being named in the team of the tournament.

The Dutch international was being pursued by a number of sides across Europe, but she chose United - opting to return to the WSL following her 18-month spell with Chelsea between 2014-15. During her time with the Blues she was still an up and coming talent yet to make her senior Netherlands debut, but when United signed Groenen she was a fully fledged international star.

10 - Karen Carney (Birmingham - Chelsea, 2015)

Chelsea tempted England centurion Karen Carney - one of the finest players of her generation - away from her hometown club Birmingham in 2015. Chelsea had just won the double, and showed they intended to carry on from where they left off by adding Carney to an already top class forward line of Eni Aluko, Fran Kirby, Gemma Davidson and Ji So-yun.

The playmaker had starred for England during the Lionesses' run to the World Cup semi finals that summer, and had been cherry picked to play in the United States with the Chicago Red Stars in 2009. Carney was a Champions League winner, a three-time FA Cup champion and one of her country's most technically gifted players.

9 - Katie Chapman (Arsenal - Chelsea, 2014)

Arsenal were not a side accustomed to losing players. They were Arsenal. And when they did lose players, this was often to the bright lights and professionalism of the United States, not to genuine league rivals.

But in 2014, Chelsea raided the Gunners for Gilly Flaherty and Katie Chapman. Midfielder Chapman was an England icon, and had been a key part of the Arsenal side that had enjoyed such domestic dominance in the 2010s. This was a transfer that suggested the tides were turning in the women's game, and Chelsea went on to clinch their first pieces of silverware the following year.

8 - Lucy Bronze (Liverpool - Manchester City, 2014)

Lucy Bronze had just won successive WSL titles with Liverpool and had been awarded the 2014 PFA Player of the Season - some feat for a right back. But shortly after the Reds' second title triumph, the full back opted to trade her league winning team for a side in just their second season in the top flight.

Manchester City had just one year of WSL experience under their belt, but demonstrated the height of their ambitions by raiding the league champions for their star player. Bronze then rose to international attention at the 2015 World Cup and City won the WSL the following year. The right back has done alright for herself since - and is tipped for a high profile return to the club this summer.

7 - Steph Houghton (Arsenal - Manchester City, 2014)

Arsenal really lost the spine of their team ahead during the 2014 transfer window, as upstarts Manchester City signed Gunners captain Steph Houghton ahead of their inaugural WSL campaign.

Houghton had shot to fame during the 2012 Olympics when she scored three goals in three group games from left back for Team GB. She had won six major trophies in three years with Arsenal, and had already been capped 40 times by England. It was a huge show of ambition from City, as the club had only just been awarded a licence to play in the top flight.

6 - Fara Williams (Everton - Liverpool, 2012)

Liverpool had begun heavily investing in their women's side ahead of the 2012 season, and Fara Williams was their statement signing. She was one of the first names on the team sheet for England, was considered one of the league's top midfielders and one of the best players in the top flight not on Arsenal's books.

Williams had been synonymous with Everton. She was the Toffees' talisman, and had spent eight years with the club as they attempted to knock Arsenal off their perch. However, she crossed Merseyside to sign for rivals Liverpool - as did teammates Natasha Dowie and Lucy Bronze. Having spent eight years being a serial runner up with Everton, she won successive WSL titles during her first two seasons with the Reds.

5 - Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit - Chelsea, 2017)

Crystal Dunn became the most high profile player from the United States to join the WSL when she signed for Chelsea in 2017. She had not been a part of the USA's 2015 World Cup winning campaign, but had begun to establish herself in the national team, featuring during their 2016 SheBelieves Cup victory.

Dunn was a big name in domestic football in the States, having become the youngest player to win NWSL Golden Boot and MVP award during the 2015 season with Washington Spirit. The signing was big for Chelsea, but also the WSL. Domestic football in the States had been streaks ahead of England for so long, but for a USA international to trade the American league for the UK showed what huge strides were being made.

4 - Ji So-yun (INAC Kobe - Chelsea, 2014)

Liverpool and Bristol City were the first WSL teams to bring in a selection of foreign players ahead of the 2012 season, but Chelsea recruited the league's first overseas star in 2014 when they announced the signing of South Korea international Ji So-yun in 2014.

Ji was just 22 at the time, but was considered one of the best midfielders in the world, having made her senior international debut at the age of 15. She has already scored 26 times for her country by the time she signed for Chelsea, and her class was instantly recognised as she scooped the PFA Player of the Year award during her first season in the WSL.

3 - Heather O'Reilly (Kansas City - Arsenal, 2017)

Shortly after Chelsea announced the signing of Crystal Dunn, Arsenal brought in an American superstar of their own. Heather O'Reilly had been capped 231 times for the United States, was a three-time Olympic champion and a World Cup winner. She was a bit of a big deal.

The winger was 32 and had retired from international football that summer, but was one of the games most recognisable faces. Arsenal signed O'Reilly in January, and a 20-year-old Vivianne Miedema joined that summer as the club began to get their swagger back.

2 - Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash - Manchester City, 2017)

She may have only been on loan at Manchester City for just the shortened 2017 WSL Spring Series, but it was still Carli Lloyd. The USA international scored a hat trick in the 2015 World Cup final - completing her treble with a stunning solo strike from half way - was a double Olympic champion, a two-time world player of the year and boasted over 200 caps for her country. Lloyd is quite simply a football icon, and WSL fans had such a treat seeing her playing in the UK.

But you can still be a football icon and get sent off for elbowing a Yeovil striker in the face, as Lloyd did in what was her final game for City, with Annie Heatherson the victim.

1 - Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars - Chelsea, 2019)

The WSL had attracted global super stars before, but when Chelsea signed Sam Kerr, it was the first time a world class player at the peak of their powers had come to play in the English top flight.

The Australian international is regarded as one of the greatest forwards on the planet; she is the record goal scorer in both the NWSL and Australian W-League, a Ballon d'Or nominee and a scorer of a hat-trick at the 2019 World Cup. Still aged just 26, Chelsea and the WSL should get to see the very best years of Kerr's career.

Source : 90min