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USWNT prospect Catarina Macario signs for European champions Lyon

European champions Lyon have completed the signing of highly-rated youngster Catarina Macario, dealing a huge blow to the NWSL.

Macario signs on a two-and-a-half year deal after announcing earlier this month that she would forgo her final year of college at Stanford to turn professional.

The 21-year-old, who was born in Brazil but recently acquired American citizenship, was expected to be the No.1 pick in the NWSL Draft this week, a pick held by Racing Louisville.

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Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have all been linked with Macario this month. However, the exciting young talent will instead begin her professional career with Lyon, who won their fifth successive Women’s Champions League title back in August.

Macario picked up the Hermann Trophy, awarded annually to the best male and female soccer players in the United States, in both 2018 and 2019 – an accolade previously won by players such as World Cup winners Christen Press and Crystal Dunn.

She also scored 63 goals in 68 games for Stanford during her college career and won two NCAA College Cup titles.

“It is a pleasure to start my professional career at OL and to find myself surrounded by the best players in the world,” Macario said. “OL represent victories, titles, trophies and I can't wait to arrive in Lyon and be part of this team.

“I know a lot of American players have worn this jersey before me. It is a great pride to be able to perpetuate this heritage and to be able to contribute to the success of the team. I hope I can progress to become a better player.”

Macario will become the 11th American to represent the club, with the likes of Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe among those to have done so before her.

She will join up with her new team-mates later this month, following the conclusion of the USWNT training camp which ends on January 22.

Lyon are currently second in the Division 1 Feminine table, one point behind rivals PSG, who beat them 1-0 at the end of November.

However, Jean-Luc Vasseur's side remain favourites for the title, having been crowned champions of France every year since their first triumph in 2007.

The club are also through to the last 16 of the Women’s Champions League, a competition they have won for the last five years running, after beating Juventus 6-2 on aggregate in December.