Chelsea have already begun assembling a frightening squad for the defence of their WSL title.
Having remained unbeaten all season as they were narrowly crowned champions of England via points-per-game, Chelsea have already recruited former Bayern Munich captain Melanie Leupolz and exciting young winger Niamh Charles as they prepare to do it all over again next season.
A gauntlet has been thrown down by Emma Hayes' side, but Manchester City have demonstrated that they are more than up for the challenge with the statement signing of Chloe Kelly.
Delighted to be a @ManCity Player ?? I cant wait to get going & help drive our clubs ambitions forward ? Thank you to my Family & my team at @pantherasports for giving me the support over the years to help make this dream move possible ? ? FORWARDS ?? pic.twitter.com/QWg0dBc742— Chloe (@Chloe_Kelly98) July 3, 2020
The signing is absolutely textbook Manchester City. As Nick Cushing established City as a force to be reckoned with in the WSL, his side was built around the faith that he put into young players.
Keira Walsh, Georgia Stanway, Ellie Roebuck and Lauren Hemp all blossomed into fully fledged England internationals during Cushing's tenure, and although the former City boss departed in February, the signing of 22-year-old Kelly suggests that replacement Gareth Taylor will follow a similar philosophy.
City also look likely to confirm the signings of Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood from Lyon in August - which would be two absolutely colossal moves. They are massive statements of intent in City's bid to wrestle the WSL title from Chelsea, and the fact that Kelly is being mentioned alongside them as a similarly significant signing demonstrates the trust City have in her.
It's also a telling move for Kelly, who just 12 months ago was only flirting with the fringes of the international picture. One year on, she has become of the country's most in demand players.
She initially joined Everton on loan from Arsenal in 2016, before making her move permanent in 2018 - a huge decision to leave one of the most successful sides in the women's game at the age of just 20 in order to secure first team football and fulfil her potential.
It more than paid off. Her performances in the 2018/19 season had her tentatively tapping at Phil Neville's door - he gave Kelly her debut in November 2018 - but by the midway stage of the 2019/20 campaign, she was practically launching bricks through the England manager's window.
Kelly's displays for Everton last season made her impossible for Neville to ignore. She scored nine goals in the WSL - many of which were absolute screamers. Only out-and-out strikers Vivianne Miedema, Beth England and Pauline Bremer found the net more. Kelly was rightfully rewarded with a place in England's 2020 SheBelieves Cup squad, emerging as one of the few positives in an otherwise disappointing tournament for the Lionesses.
Despite still being in her early 20s the former Everton player will be brought in with the intention of being a first team regular, and can slot in at City in a variety of ways.
Last season's top scorer Bremer exited for Wolfsburg this summer. Kelly has proved herself adept at playing through the middle as a number nine, offering a replacement to Bremer, and competition or a potential strike partner for Ellen White.
Throughout the 2019/20 campaign the Citizens often played with Hemp hugging one touchline and central midfielder Jill Scott on the opposite flank in an attempt to shoe horn all their key players into the starting XI. It was unorthodox and slightly unconventional, but with Janine Beckie marauding forward from right back, it worked.
Kelly is capable of playing out wide to offer a little bit more balance to the City side. The fearless Hemp bombing down one wing and Kelly jinking her way down the other is a mouthwatering prospect for City fans.
1/2 Thank you Everton ?— Chloe (@Chloe_Kelly98) June 19, 2020
To all the coaches & medical staff especially Willie Kirk for allowing me express myself on the pitch & push me everyday to be better , my team mates & the Fans?
I’m forever grateful for the opportunity this Club gave me,
Everton is a great club pic.twitter.com/5a8V8UXphc
The forward turned down a new contract at Everton in order to join Man City - another big decision to make at the age of just 22, given the success she has enjoyed with the Toffees, and the recent ambition they showed with the January signings of Izzy Christiansen and Hayley Raso.
Everton are a great club moving in the right direction, but Kelly was not going to play in the Champions League or win a league title with them anytime soon. Her desire to play with and against the very best right now, when she could have easily have enjoyed another comfortable season with Everton, is a real show of drive and ambition from Kelly.
But just as the bold choice to leave Arsenal for Everton in 2018 proved to be perfect for Kelly's development, moving to Man City now seems like the next natural career progression.
Source : 90min