The summer transfer window saw a number of high profile players move to and around the Women’s Super League — January 2022 could offer up even more tasty deals.
Clubs will be looking to add to their rosters for a number of reasons — whether it be strengthening for a title race, covering injuries, or simply just hoping to survive relegation at the end of the season.
This year has seen women’s football, particularly the WSL, grow bigger than ever, and some high profile January moves could be on the cards.
BBC Sport has reported a number of players who have been linked to transfers to England’s top flight. Equally, there are some players who could be on the move from their current WSL club.
GiveMeSport Women has listed one player each team should look to snag and why.
Arsenal — Lana Golob
Arsenal fans were left distraught when centre-back Leah Williamson picked up a hamstring injury last month which ruled her out for the remainder of 2021.
Having such a crucial player sidelined during a title run is far from the ideal situation for the Gunners. Therefore, Jonas Eidevall may be looking to bring in defensive reinforcements.
A number of WSL clubs are reportedly eyeing up Slovenian centre-back Lana Golob. The 22-year-old has 13 caps for her country and currently plays for ŽNK Pomurje, the reigning Slovenian Women’s League champions who hold a record-equalling eight titles.
With the emergence of English talent Lotte Wubben-Moy, there may not be a guaranteed starting position for Golob, but Arsenal must ensure they have sufficient depth in defence if they want to continue to push for this season’s WSL title.
Aston Villa — Rio Hardy
Aston Villa narrowly avoided relegation last season after finishing with just 15 points. They strengthened in the summer window and brought in new players and a new manager, but the Villans are still struggling on the goalscoring front.
Carla Ward’s side have netted just six goals in ten matches this season, so bringing in a new attacker should be a priority in January.
Rio Hardy is currently a free agent after Coventry United went into liquidation earlier this month.
The 25-year-old would add another option to Villa’s attack and provide some important depth to the squad. Hardy has also reportedly trained with Villa for a few days, which could indicate Ward is interested in her services.
Birmingham City — Katie Wilkinson
The Blues are currently fighting for survival in the WSL as they sit bottom of the table with one point from 10 games.
Birmingham have managed to score just four goals in the league this season, so an attacker must be high up on their January wish list.
Katie Wilkinson is another who has fallen victim to the unfortunate circumstances at Coventry United.
The striker almost helped former club Sheffield United achieve promotion into the WSL in 2020, but the season curtailment meant the Blades remained in the Championship. Wilkinson ended the campaign with the Golden Boot and Championship Player of the Season award.
The 27-year-old has previously played for Birmingham in the WSL, during a stint in 2013, where she made her senior debut.
She would also be reunited with former Sheffield United teammate Jade Pennock should she join the Blues.
Brighton — Abi Harrison
The January transfer window is the perfect time for clubs to experiment with loaning players before signing them on a permanent basis.
Brighton have continued to rise up the ranks of the WSL table in recent seasons and the summer of 2022 could be the time the Seagulls really look at bringing in players who will take them to the next level.
In the January window, Brighton could explore options through one or two loan signings, and one player who could fit the bill is Bristol City’s Abi Harrison.
The Scotland international is currently the Championship’s second highest scorer this season. Before moving to the Vixens, she made 113 appearances for Hibernian and scored 95 goals.
Bristol are fifth in the table at the moment, six points behind league leaders Liverpool. While the season is far from over, the recently relegated City will be depending on other teams dropping points.
Missing out on promotion could result in some key players looking elsewhere, and Harrison may be eyeing a move back to the WSL.
Chelsea — Rachael Laws
The reigning WSL champions are not expected to be busy on the market in January, but Emma Hayes’ resilience predicts the club might still make a signing to bolster the squad.
Carly Telford is reportedly open to a move away from the Blues, which leaves just Ann Katrin-Berger and Zecira Musovic in the goalkeepers’ union.
Hayes has proven through signing Niamh Charles that Chelsea don’t always have to target household names — simply adding depth to an already world class team can pay off in dividends.
Rachael Laws could be a smart signing to add to the Blues’ ranks, as much as it would be a blow for Liverpool to lose her.
The former Reading shot-stopper joined the Merseyside club in 2020, after the Reds were relegated from the WSL. Since then, she has helped her side get back on track and they are currently top of the Championship.
Liverpool have conceded the fewest goals in the league this season with five, showcasing Laws’ confidence in the net.
While promotion to the WSL looks likely for the Reds, being presented with the opportunity to join a side like Chelsea is a difficult offer to turn down.
Everton — Hayley Crackle
Hayley Crackle is another player who finds herself without a club following the situation at Coventry United.
The 26-year-old is an established defender and played an influential role during her time with Coventry.
Everton were tipped to challenge for the Champions League this season, but they haven’t had the best start to 2021/22. The Toffees have won just three games this term and were victim to back-to-back 4-0 defeats in the opening two weekends.
Adding another confident defender to the roster will help tighten the Everton defence and provide some depth to the backline.
Crackle will be keen to bounce back from the disappointment of her situation at Coventry and could prove to be an intuitive signing for the Blues.
Leicester City — Grace Clinton
The WSL is the home of some real uncovered gems and Grace Clinton is proving to be another waiting to showcase her full potential.
At just 18 years of age, the midfielder has huge potential and has already opened her scoring portfolio with Everton. Clinton bagged a consolation goal for the Toffees against Manchester City in the Continental Cup in October.
The teen is yet to establish herself as a regular in the first team and a loan spell could be exactly what she needs to gain experience and confidence ahead of 2022/23.
Leicester are currently struggling in the attacking sector, having scored just five goals this season. Bringing in a hungry, up and coming player like Clinton could benefit both the player and the club.
The midfielder will gain valuable time on the pitch and the Foxes will have a fresh injection of creativity.
Man City — Carly Telford
Manchester City are suffering from a huge injury crisis right now, across multiple areas on the pitch.
However, their lack of goalkeeping options is by far their biggest worry.
First choice Ellie Roebuck has been out injured since the summer and club veteran Karen Bardsley is also sidelined. Karima Benameur Taieb has stepped up to the plate, but has not performed to the usual Man City standard.
There have been talks over Bardsley leaving City after she was usurped by Roebuck. She went on a short loan spell to OL Reign this year, but should she leave the club permanently, bringing in a goalkeeper of similar calibre could be a wise decision.
Carly Telford has been linked to a move away from Chelsea and at this point in her career, the 34-year-old might be happy playing deputy to a shot-stopper like Roebuck.
Plus, with her experience both on and off the pitch, and the chance to play with compatriots like Steph Houghton, she could be the ideal back-up option for City once they rediscover their form.
Man United — Stina Blackstenius
The Reds may boast English trailblazer Ella Toone in their ranks, but there’s only so much one forward can do for her team.
After finishing fourth last season, many tipped United to comfortably secure Champions League football this term. While it’s still a huge possibility, they currently face competition from both Spurs and Brighton for third place.
After the departure of influential forwards Lauren James, Christen Press, and Tobin Heath — plus rotational player Jess Sigsworth — United would hugely benefit from bringing in a tried and tested clinical goalscorer.
Stina Blackstenius has been on Marc Skinner’s radar since the summer and is tipped to join the club in January. The Swedish striker set the Olympics alight this summer and finished her domestic season with BK Häcken as the leading goal scorer and assist provider.
Blackstenius was also shortlisted for the 2021 Ballon d’Or award.
Reading — Natalie Haigh
The Royals are reportedly looking to prioritise signing a central defender in January and Aston Villa’s Natalie Haigh is said to be looking for a loan move in order to bank regular game time.
This could marry up perfectly for both Reading and Haigh and it could act as a trial basis ahead of a potential permanent move in the summer.
The defender has established herself as a solid option in defence and a loan spell with Reading, who have shipped 12 goals and lost four matches this season, could be an ideal move.
It will give Haigh time to regain some confidence on the pitch with regular minutes and Reading will have the chance to assess whether the defender is a player they want to pursue on a full-time deal.
Spurs — Kristie Mewis
Since Spurs earned promotion in 2019, the North Londoners have failed to finish higher than seventh in the WSL. However, this season, there’s a whole new dynamic about the team.
Tottenham are currently third in the league table, ahead of Man United and just one point behind Chelsea. As it stands, Champions League football is very much on the cards, and signing a player like Kristie Mewis could be what they need to keep their form running.
Mewis is an experienced US international and the midfielder has in fact admitted she would be open to a move to London. Spurs would have to pay a hefty price for the 30-year-old though, who recently trained with the Lilywhites before her NWSL Draft move to NJ/NY Gotham.
Although, Tottenham’s lure shouldn’t be underestimated, seeing as they announced the loan signing of Alex Morgan just last year.
West Ham — Lisa Evans
Lisa Evans is currently on loan with the East London side and a permanent move away from Arsenal could be on the cards for the versatile Scot.
The 29-year-old has tallied a goal and an assist in five WSL appearances for West Ham this season.
Evans can play up front, on the wing, and in defence. Plus, with her 89 caps for Scotland, she makes for an ideal experienced player to join the ranks and help push West Ham back up the table following their relegation scare last season.
Clubs will have until January 28th to finalise their New Year’s deals. You can keep up to date on all Women’s Super League news right her on GiveMeSport Women.