Chelsea agree WSL-record fee to sign Lauren James from Man Utd

Lauren James ChelseaGetty Images

Chelsea have agreed on a record fee between Women's Super League (WSL) clubs to sign Lauren James from Manchester United.

The deal is still pending personal terms but the 19-year-old forward looks set to join her brother Reece in west London.

Having gained United's permission, James has already completed her medical and is widely expected to join manager Emma Hayes's double-winning side in a deal worth an initial £200,000, rising to £300,000 with add-ons - the biggest transfer ever between two WSL clubs.

Why have talks taken so long?

United have been cautious about losing a star player to a rival but with just a year left on her contract, James has been able to get the move she desires.

It comes amid a summer crisis at United who lost their highly respected manager Casey Stoney. United narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification by one point in their first season in the Women's Super League 

Stoney resigned as manager after reportedly growing frustrated with the lack of investment in the infrastructure behind the scenes.

"It has been an honour to lead the women's team at this great club and this has been an incredibly tough decision," Stoney said upon resigning.

Meanwhile, American duo Tobin Heath and Christen Press have left to return to the United States. Fellow forward Jess Sigsworth has also left the club and is likely to join newly promoted Leicester City.

Where does James fit into Chelsea's plans?

Chelsea are already heavily stocked in their forward line with Fran Kirby, Sam Kerr, Pernille Harder, Bethany England, Erin Cuthbert and Niamh Charles among their options.

However, Hayes has a habit of moving forward players into deeper roles through her coaching methods and could find a way to fit in James.

James is regarded as one of the finest young talents in English football having already earned a call-up into the senior national team.

At the end of the 2019-20 season, she finished as the top scorer for United and was named the PFA Women's Young Player of the Year.

James also made Goal's NxGn list in 2020, ranking fourth and placing her among the top 10 young talents in the women's game.

She's currently working with personal trainer Tom Joyce to keep fit ahead of the new season, despite being away on holiday.

The Blues, meanwhile, are keen to take their final step and win the UEFA Women's Champions League.

They suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat to Barcelona in the final and it remains the only trophy that has evaded Hayes during her 10-year spell in charge at the club.

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