Every WSL club’s 2024 January transfer window- ranked

During the Women’s Super League transfer window, many clubs have fortified their teams, while others have either opted to wait until the summer window or found themselves unable to make significant moves.

Since the transfer window opened on January 1st, clubs have been putting in significant effort behind closed doors to strengthen their squads, aiming to keep pace with the continuous expansion and competitiveness seen in the WSL.

With the window closed, and all deals finalised, some clubs have fared better than others. Some clubs have mastered their business and had it wrapped up early whilst others were going down to the wire, negotiating deals until the very last minute on January 31st.

Marc SkinnerMarc Skinner

Man Utd’s lack of recruitment hasn’t helped injury struggles / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Manchester United have been struggling with their squad depth since a plethora of injuries has left left the squad short of depth the side. In their opening fixture of 2024, a 3-1 loss to Chelsea, manager Marc Skinner could only name five outfield subs, showcasing how threadbare his side has become.

Yet despite Skinner repeatedly lamenting that United need to invest in order to close the gap with the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal, they have failed to make a single signing in the window, despite a lack of defensive cover in particular.

A lot of focus in the summer window went on strengthening the forward line, but the defence – now made up of only five fit players – is appearing lethargic after being overworked.

But with the ability to invest, it is hard to see why they haven’t done to boost the threadbare bench.

Brian SorensenBrian Sorensen

Brian Sorensen says it is one in one out for his club / Danehouse Photography Ltd/GettyImages

Everton are a complex case, hit hard by the finanical burden the men’s team have recently faced. Manager Brian Sorensen revealed the there were no funds to make signings in this window, leaving his squad dangerously thin, especially after Nicoline Sorensen’s retirement.

The summer loss of Gabby George to Manchester United dealt a significant blow, worsened by Nathalie Bjorn’s January move to Chelsea. However, the lucrative sale at least facilitated Sorensen’s acquisition of Rikke Madsen as her replacement. Additionally, Arsenal’s Katherine Kuhl joined on loan to bolster midfield depth without a transfer fee.

These two signings alone will unlikely be enough to prevent Everton from slipping towards a possible relegation battle. The squad desperately needed to strengthen after being hit hard with injuries, but are having to operate on a more or less one in one out basis due to their financial struggles meaning it has been a tough window for the Toffees.

Matt BeardMatt Beard

Matt Beard said Liverpool weren’t looking to add more depth / Cameron Smith/GettyImages

Liverpool have been threadbare at times, with injuries and illness hitting Matt Beard at critical points in the season thus far. Bolstering his side would have been beneficial to keep hold of their fifth place.

Not much would have been needed after some crafty business in the summer. Only losing Natasha Flint and Miri Taylor to Celtic and Aston Villa, however, hasn’t really hurt the talented side.

Beard revealed a week before the window closed that he was not looking to add any new faces. It feels like it is a risky tactic in case injury setbacks plague the squad once again.

Miri TaylorMiri Taylor

Miri Taylor was a late addition for Aston Villa / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Full-back Noelle Maritz from Arsenal is a solid recruit for an Aston Villa that underwhelmed by last season’s standards, before a a more positive spell of form recently. But given their tumultuous start and difficulty defending this season, it doesnt feel enough to keep them away from relegation due to the tightly contested bottom of the table.

Losing the talented Laura Blindkilde Brown to Manchester City on deadline is a big loss for Carla Ward who has relied on the England Under-23 midfielder this season with several of her more senior options in that department ruled out through short-term injuries. Getting Miri Taylor in on loan from Liverpool at least replaces Blindkilde, but doesn’t boost depth beyond what it already was.

Ward admitted she knew the defence needed work and was still in the market for another defender that didn’t arrive by the time the window closed.

Taylor SmithTaylor Smith

Taylor Smith on loan is Brighton’s newest recruit / Brad Smith/ISI Photos/GettyImages

It was a pretty busy summer window for the Seagulls with manager Melissa Phillips, appointed last April, giving the club a new look and new identity. With so many fresh additions in the summer, there was little that Phillips needed now, despite bringing in a few like-for-like replacements.

With Nicky Evrard returning to Chelsea from her loan spell, Brighton secured the signature of former Wolfsburg goalkeeper Melina Loeck from Kristianstads DFF in Sweden. Having only bid farewell to one squad player, Brighton really did not have much else to do this time around. Experienced NWSL defender Taylor Smith joined on loan from NJ/NY Gotham on Deadline Day.

It is a worry, however, that if injuries affect key players like top scorer Elisabeth Terland, or fellow forwards Katie Robinson or Pauline Bremer, there is not much depth on the bench to cover. The Seagulls may find themselves in a spot of bother if this was to be the case.

Laura Blindkilde BrownLaura Blindkilde Brown

Man City managed to get Laura Blindkilde Brown / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Manchester City might not have done much business at all in January until they were hit hard last week by the season-ending injury to record signing Jill Roord, forcing them to change tactics.

Roord had been City’s only summer signing after huge player turnover had previously occurred in 2022. But she suffered an ACL injury during their Conti Cup clash with Manchester United, leaving a massive gap in the midfield after the Dutch star had proven to be critical in the pursuit of the title.

It took a big fee to land England junior international Laura Blindkilde Brown, triggering a £200,000 release clause. Despite being an enormous talent, she does not feel like the perfect like for like replacement for Roord, but will almost certainly be a huge asset for years to come.

City also managed to get a couple of other future prospects over the line on Deadline Day, bringing in forward Poppy Pritchard from Durham and fledgling Republic of Ireland international Tara O’Hanlon.

Emily FoxEmily Fox

Emily Fox was big on the free agency market this winter / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Arsenal only introduced two players to the side to strengthen their defence. But United States international Emily Fox at right-back and a short-term deal for veteran French goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi feels like enough for the Gunners, who had added plenty of signings in the summer.

With key players returning from ACL injuries, it feels almost like side are adding four new signings. Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema’s returns have already acted as catalysts for the club, with Leah Williamson now also back to add another defensive option. Laura Wienroither is likely now only a few weeks away from making her comeback too.

Noelle Maritz to Aston Villa was a victim of the need to make room in the squad, while Kathrine Kuhl and Gio Queiroz have joined Everton and Madrid CFF on loan to gain more first-team opportunities.

Lisa EvansLisa Evans

Few players have experience like Lisa Evans / West Ham United FC/GettyImages

This transfer window has been top work from Lauren Smith who has adapted well to her first run in the WSL despite Bristol City sitting at the bottom of the table. The leap from the Championship is a big one and her new internationally experienced players may be the key to prevent a swft return.

Snatching Lisa Evans from relegation rivals West Ham for a free transfer after her contract was mutually terminated was an astute decision and one that might define the trajectory of both clubs.

Kristie Mewis is a United States internationalKristie Mewis is a United States international

Kristie Mewis is a United States international / Daniela Porcelli/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Rehanne Skinner inherited a very young squad when she took over in the summer and her late appointment meant she had little time to recruit players in that window. Therefore, it has been an incredibly positive move to introduce three experienced international players at a crucial moment.

Katrina Gorry and Kristie Mewis add depth and quality West Ham’s midfield, although defensive reinforcements were also necessary and Skinner reunited with former Spurs captain Shelina Zadorsky in that respect. More defenders coming in wouldn’t have gone amiss.

The Hammers need to score more goals if they are put more distance between themselves and the relegation place, which should be helped by new attacking midfielder Marika Bergman-Lundin following her switch from Champions League side BK Hacken.

Mayra RamirezMayra Ramirez

Mayra Ramirez signed for Chelsea for a world record fee / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

Chelsea are masters of transfer windows but with an already stacked squad, had very little to do. The decision to sign Nathalie Bjorn from Everton to allow Millie Bright more time to return from her recurring knee injury without being rushed haste was a smart decision.

Filling the shoes of Sam Kerr, ruled out until next season, the Blues agreed a world record fee worth nearly £500,000, including add-ons, to bring in Colombian striker Mayra Ramirez from Levante.

Both signings are fill critical gaps left by key players who are injured, but also have the potential for future growth. It means Chelsea come out of the window stronger than they went in.

Utility player Jessie Fleming was an understandable loss but her sale brought in serious cash too.

Wang ShuangWang Shuang

China star Wang Shuang is now a Tottenham player / Zhizhao Wu/GettyImages

Spurs have grown exponentially under Robert Vilahamn who has used his knowledge and connections in Sweden to pen the signatures of several exciting talents in Charli Grant and Matilda Vinberg as well as the club casting the net wider to sign top China international Wang Shuang.

Whilst outgoings can leave a squad limited – Angharad James suddenly switched to Seattle Reign despite regularly starting WSL games – Vilahamn has also sent several academy prospects and international talents on loan, using the system to his full advantage to allow players to get minutes and flourish with more game time elsewhere whilst retaining the option to recall them.

Yuka MomikiYuka Momiki

Leicester have continued investing in international players / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Willie Kirk is simply the master of transfer windows. He has used the last two to convert Leiceter from relegation contenders to a squad with mid-table and higher aspirations. In this window, his scouting net picked up several internationally acclaimed talents – particularly Japan internationals Yuka Momiki and Saori Takarada – and his ability to attract them to the WSL is second to none.

Kirk picked out midfielder Takarada as a potential signing but, during scouting, he saw the link up with forward Momiki and decided to make a play for both instead. Leicester also took advantage of the Swedish off-season to get midfielder Emilia Pelgander and used the loan market to recruit some existing WSL experience in the form of Tottenham defender Asmita Ale.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.