Tobin Heath and Christen Press are two of the biggest stars of the U.S. women’s national team (USWNT).
Both are two-time World Cup winners, with Heath a two-time Olympic gold medalist too, having made her international debut five years before Press. Yet despite their iconic status in women’s soccer, they both traveled to Japan for this summer’s Olympic Games without clubs.
After leaving Manchester United in June, both have sorted their futures - to an extent. It was confirmed in August that Press will join expansion club Angel City, which will join the NWSL in 2022, while Heath will return to the Women's Super League after signing for Arsenal.
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But with Press having a big gap to fill before her move, and Heath's contract length undisclosed, rumours are still rife around both players.
Why are Press and Heath's futures complicated?
While playing in England with United, Press and Heath saw their NWSL rights drafted by new expansion side Racing Louisville. The expansion draft takes place whenever a new team comes into the top league of the United States, with that club able pick the rights to players clubs choose not to protect.
The Portland Thorns and the Utah Royals - now Kansas City NWSL - respectively, chose to leave Heath and Press’ rights unprotected, allowing Louisville to select them.
This has made the topic of Press and Heath's futures complicated, particularly as there was no suggestion from club or the players that they had the desire to play for the Kentucky-based side.
Louisville still holds the rights to Heath, but traded Press' rights to Angel City in August. In return, the club received Angel City's first-round pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft, $75,000 in allocation money and roster protection from Angel City in the 2021 NWSL Expansion Draft. That means no players will be taken from Louisville by Angel City later this year.
Press has signed a two-year contract, with the option of a third year, to return to Los Angeles, where she was born.
Heath's future, meanwhile, is away from the NWSL for the time being, but should she want to return to the NWSL, she would be playing for Louisville - unless someone successfully trades for her rights, too.
Which NWSL clubs could trade for Heath?
As well as Angel City, San Diego is also launching a new NWSL team in California, of which Casey Stoney, the former Man Utd head coach, will be in charge. Heath spoke very highly of Stoney when she moved to England and talked about her being a key factor in her decision to go to Manchester.
Since the announcement of Stoney’s hire, there have inevitably been suggestions that San Diego could be interested in Heath. With Arsenal not revealing the length of her contract in England, many will be watching on with interest to see if she plays the whole season with the Gunners, or leaves in the new year ahead of the California side's first NWSL season.
Given her caliber, it’s unlikely that there are no other clubs in the U.S. considering whether they could be an option for Heath, either.
Could Press play in Europe before 2022?
Press' long-term future may have been sorted with her trade to Angel City, but with them not entering the league until next year, she may be looking for a temporary club to keep her match fitness up.
Joining a team in Europe would help her do so given the way the club season works on the continent, allowing her to play regularly until things are ready for her in Los Angeles.
The 32-year-old is no stranger to playing football abroad, having spent a lot of time in Sweden over the past 10 years before her move to England last season.
She won the Swedish Cup in 2012 and was part of a star-studded Tyreso side, which also featured Brazil icon Marta and fellow USWNT World Cup winner Meghan Klingenberg, that reached the 2014 UEFA Women’s Champions League final.