Forget USWNT stars: Man City's Kelly proving to be WSL's signing of the summer

Chloe Kelly Manchester City Women 2020
Manchester City FC
Foreign imports dominated the Women's Super League's transfer window, but the ex-Everton winger is overshadowing them all so far

When Manchester City’s transfer business was completed this summer, the hype was immense.

Two World Cup winners - Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle - and two players who lifted the Champions League in August with LyonLucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood - arrived at the club as they prepared to compete for the Women’s Super League title.

But their stand-out player so far this season has been the exciting young talent they brought in at the very start of the summer: Chloe Kelly.

The 22-year-old may not be a world or European champion, but she has taken the WSL by storm since arriving from Everton - scoring her first league goals for City on Sunday in a 4-1 defeat of Tottenham.

Build-up to the fixture was dominated by the idea of Alex Morgan making her Spurs debut, or Lavelle perhaps making her first City start.

But it was fitting that Kelly grabbed the headlines as, while talk for most of the summer has been about the WSL’s foreign imports, it could be the young England international who proves to be the signing of the window.

“She’s just so difficult to play against,” City head coach Gareth Taylor said after the game. “Even sometimes we’re not quite sure what she’s going to do when she’s got the ball, which is great.

"She’s unpredictable, she can go outside, inside, she can play on both flanks - arguably she’d do a really good job down the middle as a No.9 as well.

“She’s just that real attacking threat and I was pleased for her today because the three performances she’s put in over the last week have been great.”

Chloe Kelly Manchester City Women quote PS gfx 4:5

It was also fitting for Kelly to be the star of the show on Sunday because, as Taylor pointed out, she has been crucial to what has been some week for City.

It was Kelly’s penalty - her first goal for the club - that set them on their way to the FA Cup semi-finals last Sunday, in a 2-1 win over Championship side Leicester City.

On Thursday, she was a livewire again against Arsenal, as City secured their place in the FA Cup final.

And on Sunday, she achieved that feat that she has been building up to slowly but surely, netting her first WSL goals.

The first was a stunning strike. After cutting inside from her position on the left-wing and firing two warning shots to Spurs with her right foot – one well-saved by Becky Spencer and the other flying just wide – Kelly punished them on the third attempt.

“I knew that I could cut in and that the full-back was giving me that space to do so,” she explained.

“I just believed in myself and knew that one would come off. I just kept trying it. I’m a player that plays with confidence and I wasn’t going to give up if I had that space to do it.

“Yesterday, I was out on the training pitch, doing extra, working on the cutting in and finishing so it just shows that’s paying off.”

Her second strike was another cool penalty, with her unorthodox skip-and-jump run-up repeated from the Leicester win.

But despite being a livewire ever since she pulled on that City shirt for the first time, the most exciting thing is that there is even more to come from the forward, who scored nine times in 12 games for an Everton side who finished sixth last season.

“I feel like I’ve got more to give still. I’m still learning,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been here years. That’s just credit to the team, the coaching staff, that are allowing us to settle in."

“She’s the nicest girl in the world, Chloe,” Taylor added. “But also, there’s a real steely determination within her to be successful.”

Six games into Kelly’s Manchester City career, she has scored three goals and reached an FA Cup final.

With the quality around her at this club, the potential her game has and the confidence she possesses, it is only a glimpse of what she and City could achieve together.