When Alex Morgan’s move to Tottenham was completed just before the Transfer Deadline in Autumn it capped off an extraordinary window for women’s football in England.
But with Morgan on her way back to Orlando after playing just five games for Spurs, what has the impact of the summer signing spree from the States been on the WSL?
Our reporter Anton Toloui analyses the situation ahead of the winter Transfer Window opening on January 1.
The Alex Morgan Effect
She may have only played one full game for Spurs but both parties will be happy with Alex Morgan’s brief spell in north London.
Morgan moved to Spurs in an attempt to get back to full fitness after the birth of her daughter Charlie and she did just that while contributing on the pitch during a Covid-affected season.
The lure of an international star also brought global attention to Tottenham, a club in just their second WSL season.
It’s also no coincidence Tottenham Women moved their training base from the modern yet modest Hive to the state-of-the-art Spurs Lodge training complex alongside the men during Morgan’s tenure.
For Tottenham’s players, who will have benefitted from playing alongside a global great, this could be the biggest positive of all.
WSL becomes a global brand
The WSL is now truly a global brand, with TV deals in the USA, Canada, South America and all across Europe.
Like the Premier League, star names get people in front of their televisions and The FA and clubs now have a far more marketable product around the world.
Fans in the US, for example, can wake up to watch their pick of WSL fixtures on NBC every weekend. That kind of exposure is huge for the game.
Success on the pitch
Signings are ultimately judged on one thing: what they achieve on the pitch and the newly acquired star talent has helped take the WSL to the level.
Take Tobin Heath for example. The two-time World Cup-winning forward has scored four and set up another two goals in her eight WSL appearances, including one of the best goals of the season against Bristol City at the weekend.
Her creativity and experience, alongside fellow US international Christen Press, has helped Manchester United to finish the year top of the WSL in just their second season.
Another player who looks to be in contention for WSL Player of the Year is Sam Mewis.
The midfielder joined Manchester City alongside fellow world champion Rose Lavelle in the summer but it’s Mewis who has been the standout performer.
The 28-year old has dominated, scoring in big games in the league, FA Cup and Champions League.
Mewis’ presence and form will be a big factor if City are to climb the standings after dropping points at the start of the season.
It’s not just at the top of the table the signings from the States have helped.
Rachel Daly and Emily van Egmond, on loan from Houston Dash and Orlando Pride, have contributed almost half of West Ham’s WSL goals between them this season.
The success of many of the summer signings, however, does lead to one problem on the horizon.
What happens at the end of the season?
All of the players brought in by WSL clubs from the US over the summer were on six-month or one-year deals.
With the NWSL expected to resume in the spring, most of the clubs will be expecting their players back.
Heath and Press have been traded to new franchise Racing Louisville and Rose Lavelle’s rights have been picked up by OL Reign for one of the biggest fees in US soccer history.
If the players above along with the likes of Mewis, Daly, Allana Kennedy (Tottenham) and Jess Fishlock (Reading) all depart then there will be an impact on the WSL.
The FA’s director of the women’s professional game Kelly Simmons has previously said the organisation is trying to establish the division as the “best in the world”.
Persuading top talent based in the States to stay may be expensive as clubs will want compensating and players will want new deals.
English clubs took advantage of doubts over a regular season in States due to COVID this summer, they won’t be as fortunate in 2021.