The Women's Super League is fast-becoming the ultimate destination in women's football, with international players increasingly tempted by the lure of the English premier division and top clubs in the league beating European teams to sign the best players in the game.
But good luck finding out any details on transfers beyond which club did the signing. Such is the transparency, or lack thereof, in women's football transfer culture that, when contacted by Telegraph Sport, the Football Association were unable to provide transfer data that separated WSL and Championship sides. One is a league of full-time professionals, the other of mostly part-time players.
Little is known of the most high profile deal of the last few years: marquee Chelsea signing Sam Kerr. Considered by many to be the best in the world, the Australian forward was reportedly courted by Barcelona, PSG and Lyon before choosing west London in November.
Fifa's latest Global Transfer Market report revealed that only $652,032 was spent on transfer fees in the women's game in 2019. Although an increase on 2018 figures, very little cash is actually exchanging hands between clubs. Less than four per cent of the 833 total global transfers in the women's game involved a fee last year, and 86 per cent involved an out-of-contract player.
Kerr was one such example, and an agent told Telegraph Sport it is not uncommon in the women’s game given clubs’ limited finances: "If you're Tottenham and you can't buy your players a fridge, you're not going to be paying transfer fees, are you?"
Another agent added: "There's not enough finance within the game, still, to generate a transfer fee figure that will entice. I think you're more likely to see players sign a contract whereby they've got enough flexibility for the term to expire. Clubs aren’t earning millions from TV broadcasting revenues. Therefore, they can’t afford to go and buy players."
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThat agent said they had seen six-figure transfer fees, but only for particularly high-profile WSL players moving abroad. On average, they said, the fees paid in England are "between £20-60,000".
Mystery surrounds salaries in the game too. While WSL side Liverpool are reportedly offering just £20,000 per annum, one agent says players at the top three WSL clubs earn up to £150,000 - a three-fold increase on what those same players might have earned prior to the WSL restructure in 2018.
An increase in options - between Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City domestically, and Lyon, PSG and Juventus abroad - has given the WSL’s best players greater power to negotiate improved salaries. At some clubs, however, negotiations are like “pulling teeth”, an agent said.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThey said this situation extended down to Championship sides too. One agent claims players at London City Lionesses were offered contracts well below minimum wage when the club went professional last season: "[Lionesses] were offering £12,000, £14,000 saying, 'Don't worry we don't start training until 2-8pm, so you can work in the morning'. Well that's not pro then, is it?" When approached by the Daily Telegraph, London City would not comment on the salaries quoted.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appAnd yet players are flocking to the English leagues more and more. Fifa’s report found that in 2019 the FA saw international transfers increase by nearly 40 per cent on the previous year, only the USA and Spain attracting more players. The WSL saw four Matildas alone sign deals this winter, Caitlin Foord for Arsenal the final signing of the window. It is a trend a source said was due to the physical demands Australian players experienced playing in both the NWSL in the US and the W-League back home, with most players unable to sustain the intensity of just two weeks off a year for their whole career.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appBut something more must be keeping players interested in the WSL, as those already in the league seem intent on staying too. Steph Houghton committed herself to Manchester City until 2022 last week, and Fifa's report showed that to be a trend, with fewer leaving English football than they are leagues in France, Spain, Germany or Italy. It is in contrast to the trend in 2017 and 2018, when England internationals Lucy Bronze, Eniola Aluko, Toni Duggan, Mary Earps and Izzy Christiansen all headed to the continent. Christiansen returned to Everton last month, while Bronze recently said she would like to return to the WSL at some point.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appOne agent said the biggest pull of the WSL was the competitive spread of clubs. "I think there was that big Lyon rush, but the reality of it is, is that league that competitive?" they said. "Our league is more competitive and growing." Just do not ask what the players are going for.