Lauren James at the NWSL, Aitana Bonmati at Manchester United or Chloe Kelly at PSG – the race to become the first £1 million women’s footballer is on

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Lauren James at the NWSL, Aitana Bonmati at Manchester United or Chloe Kelly at PSG – the race to become the first £1 million women’s footballer is on


The transfer record for a female footballer has already been broken twice this year.

And it’s likely that it will be broken again before too long.

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Kundananji has already proven his worth by scoring on his debut for Bay FCCredit: Getty

Manchester United boss Marc Skinner recently predicted that the women’s game is close to its first £1 million transfer.

He said: “We’re making progress, and as the gates continue to grow and the money comes into (women’s) football, I don’t think we’re far from it.”

The Red Devils are just one club to break their own transfer record, purchasing Brazilian striker Geyse in August for a fee in excess of £250,000.

And in recent months, the international record has been broken several times.

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Racheal Kundananji recently became the most expensive footballer of all time when she left Madrid CFF to sign for new NWSL club Bay FC for £625,000.

She won the title against Chelsea striker Mayra Ramirez, who signed from Levante in January for a fee of £400,000.

And then, in March 2024, the order was reshuffled again after Orlando Pride signed Zambian striker Barbra Banda from Chinese club Shanghai Shengli for a fee of £581,000, making him the second-highest signing more expensive in front of Ramirez.

And as talkSPORT women’s football reporter Charlotte Richardson explained, the conditions are more than ripe for the long-awaited £1 million move to finally take place – perhaps even in a deal involving English clubs.

Lioness Keira Walsh comes fourth on list of most expensive transfers

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Lioness Keira Walsh comes fourth on list of most expensive transfersCredit: Getty
And German star Lena Oberdorf completes the top five.

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And German star Lena Oberdorf completes the top five.Credit: Getty

She said: “I think it’s really interesting and particularly timely when you consider how much the WSL is going to change with NewCo.

“I don’t think we’re far from it, it could even potentially be this summer because I think with NewCo’s strategy, the commercial acumen and the refinement of that commercial strategy, we will see more and more investment and a return on this investment.

She added: “By the time the 2025 Euros come around, I think the £1 million barrier – which is a bit of a milestone – I think will be breached.”

But who will be the most important actor who will give us this defining moment? talkSPORT.com takes a look.

Lauren James (Chelsea)

The Chelsea and England starlet has made his presence – and value – known on the international stage in recent years.

But talkSPORT Early Sports Breakfast presenter Shebahn Aherne has expressed doubts over whether his long-term future lies with the Blues and whether his move could well involve a million-pound fee.

She said: “Yes, she has her contract at Chelsea. But with Emma Hayes leaving and her being such a brilliant player, such a goal threat and becoming somewhat of a household name in the world of football, I think it could be an interesting approach for many big clubs, maybe Barcelona, ​​maybe Real Madrid, maybe America.

James is prolific both for his club...

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James is prolific both for his club…Credit: Getty

“I just can’t see her settling permanently at Chelsea without moving elsewhere. And she’s the kind of player who deserves a million, no matter what. In fact, double that for Lauren James, I’d say!”

And Richardson agreed – although she admitted it would take a special club to tempt her.

She said: “I think you just look at the superstar player, the magical players like Lauren James. She comes to mind as someone who could quite easily command a fee of that magnitude. The question is know who would she go to? Who would she want to go with Chelsea who is so dominant?

...and for his country

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…and for his countryCredit: Getty

Aitana Bonmati (Barcelona)

Arguably the best female footballer in the world today, Bonmati has won the Spanish Premier League, Champions League, Spanish Women’s Super Cup, World Cup and Nations League in the last year alone.

Not only did Richardson think the Spanish midfielder could demand a huge fee, but she also suggested that one club in particular could soon have their eyes on her.

She said: “I always wondered if any club would make a big attempt to lure Aitana Bonmati from Barcelona. I think she is so unique in terms of her footballing ability and footballing brain. Everything she has won for Barcelona, ​​but also at international level – obviously winning the FIFA Women’s Player’s Ballon d’Or.

“If Manchester United were to strengthen their ideas with the investment that seems to be going to the men’s team, if they were looking to sign a big brand, could Bonmati be it.”

Bonmati shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to winning trophies

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Bonmati shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to winning trophiesCredit: Getty

Lauren Hemp (Man City)

Another lioness said to be worth every penny of £1million is Manchester City striker Lauren Hemp.

Lianne Sanderson, presenter of talkSPORT’s Women’s Football Show, said: “I think it will probably be a Barcelona player or someone coming off a contract where she is very well paid. So it could be Lauren Hemp. “

Hemp’s contract with City expires at the end of the 2023/24 season and she is already linked with Spanish giants Barcelona.

The possibility of such a player being given a free transfer is unthinkable, but not impossible given the same thing happened to Alessia Russo after Manchester United were unable to keep her on board.

But if City somehow manage to convince Hemp to stay, European interest is very unlikely to wane and the chances of a very high bid eventually being put forward for the winger are more than likely .

Barcelona won't be the only club looking to get into hemp

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Barcelona won’t be the only club looking to get into hempCredit: Getty

Chloe Kelly (Man City)

And Hemp isn’t the only England winger with the ability to break the £1 million mark.

Aherne explained: “The one that seems like a possible million pound move to me would be Chloe Kelly from Manchester City. There are rumors she could go to PSG.

“And why not? Why not Chloe Kelly? Not only is she a Lioness and a European Lioness champion, but she took them to the World Cup final with those penalties against Nigeria and she also scored the winning goal of the Euro.

“Chloe Kelly is certainly a player who has stood out in the big moments for England and for her club. She also offers a lot on the wing and is a brilliant, very attacking athlete. This summer, Chloe Kelly could be a person to monitor. “.

The striker is under contract with Man City until the end of 2025, so a rumored move to PSG this summer would likely result in a huge fee – the only question is whether it would break the £1million barrier.

Kelly is no stranger to big moments...

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Kelly is no stranger to big moments…Credit: Getty
...actually, she seems to like them

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…actually, she seems to like themCredit: Getty

Salma Paralluelo (Barcelona)

When looking for the most valuable players in women’s football, it’s hard to look beyond the Barcelona team.

And one player who might be even more interesting than Bonmati is World Cup winner Salma Paralluelo.

At just 20 years old, the striker is undoubtedly set for a decorated and successful career and would be an asset to any trophy-chasing club.

The young striker is the first ever player to win the World Cup in each of the three age categories, having also won the Under-20 World Cup and the Under-17 World Cup.

She already has 12 goals in 21 caps, including two victories at last year’s World Cup.

Paraluello is largely responsible for Spain's current dominance in world football.

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Paraluello is largely responsible for Spain’s current dominance in world football.Credit: AFP

Linda Caicedo (Real Madrid)

At just 19 years old, Colombian forward Linda Caicedo has skills on the pitch well beyond her years.

The young player signed for Real Madrid in 2023 having already established herself as one to watch, but she has impressed even more at the 2023 Women’s World Cup after registering two goals and an assist in her two Player of the Match performance.

Even though Real Madrid are successful, they are not the giants that Barcelona, ​​Lyon or even Chelsea might consider themselves to be.

A move for Caicedo to a club that can guarantee his regular silverware is a likely prospect in the near future.

Caicedo's skillful footwork at the World Cup won him many fans around the world

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Caicedo’s skillful footwork at the World Cup won him many fans around the worldCredit: Getty

Sophie Smith (Portland Thorns)

Touted as America’s next big star, forward Sophia Smith is one of those players who will likely make Emma Hayes’ job a pleasure when she takes over the national team.

In late March 2024, Smith also agreed to a contract extension with her club Portland Thorns in a deal that made her the highest-paid player in the NWSL, according to ESPN.

The 23-year-old already has 18 goals in 46 appearances for the United States and recently scored a brace for her country in a narrow penalty shootout victory over Canada in the SheBelieves Cup.

She’s another young player who would make a wise investment – not to mention that NWSL clubs often have the highest spending power.

Smith’s fame within the NWSL already means she could well be the first to command that £1m fee.

Smith was named MVP of the recent SheBelieves Cup

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Smith was named MVP of the recent SheBelieves CupCredit: Getty
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