After months of inevitability, it was finally announced on Wednesday that Chelsea had agreed a fee with Manchester United for the prodigious talent, Lauren James. Reports of the fee varied from £50k plus add ons to £200k straight up, both with a player in exchange. Either way, the consensus was that the transfer would definitely be a record sum between two WSL clubs.
This may seem great for all but the player United receive will determine the true worth of this deal. For it to be an absolute slam dunk, United would receive Beth England. Despite her being a top class forward, she found herself down the pecking order at Chelsea. With Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder ahead of her, a move to United would make a lot of sense for her. She would have the opportunity of regular first team football, allowing her to stake her claim for the Euro 22 squad. Her addition would also be a massive boost to the quality of forward options at United.
Another Chelsea bench player that has been speculated as the one to be exchanged is Hannah Blundell. The full back would fill an area of need but she hasn’t played meaningful minutes for several years now. Her inclusion in the deal would thus make the fee seem insufficient for a player of Lauren James’ talent. That’s even with there only being 1 year left on her contract.
Losing such an incredible talent to another team in the league may lead people to believe that it is due to the current state of the club. Yet, this deal is one that has actually been driven by the pandemic. LJ, as she is affectionately known by the fans, is very family centric. So, it no doubt took its toll on her that she wasn’t able to see family or have them come to games due to COVID restrictions. So, with her brother Reece already at Chelsea, and her family based in West London as it is, this deal was bound to happen. This is also why no one else pursued her, despite her being one of the biggest talents in the women’s game.
Ultimately, it is never pleasant to see such a talent leave the club. As one of the original members of the reformed United side, her contribution was invaluable. Especially as she scored so many noteworthy goals for us. That said, the agreement is one that should suit all parties. So, our attention now turns towards how we utilise the LJ fee. It will be key to use this to bolster the squad further in our pursuit of Champions League football.