Top Five Summer Signings to Get on the Back of Your Next WSL Shirt
With the FA Women’s Super League February international break on the horizon, we take a look back at some of the summer signings that have made their mark in the first half of the 2021/22 WSL season. So if you are fretting over what to have printed on that back of that shirt you’ve been eyeing up, then look no further than our top five summer signings to get on the back of your next WSL shirt.
What better place to start than with current table toppers Arsenal. With the second half of the season well underway, the Gunners currently sit two points clear of second placed Chelsea. This is a feat their five summer signings have played a major role in, and none more so than Frida Manuum. At just 21 years old, Manuum has taken to the WSL like a duck to water, seeming to relish the step up to one of the best leagues in the world.
With the Gunners losing both Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord over the summer, Manuum had some massive shoes to fill, but she has slotted seamlessly into Arsenals star-studded midfield, winning over fans around the country with her trademark shots from range. The Norwegian certainly wasted no time in announcing herself to Arsenal fans, with an assist less than half an hour into her debut, and she established herself as a key part of Jonas Eidevall’s starting 11 soon after. Scoring a brace last month against Leicester City, along with some stellar performances deeper in midfield, Manuum is proving why she is one of Europe’s most exciting young talents week in and week out.
Vilde Boe Risa
Manuum’s fellow countrywoman Vilde Boe Risa may have flown under the radar of many WSL enthusiasts so far, having only made six league starts for Manchester United since her long-awaited signing last summer. However, her player of the match performance against Brighton in December marked a turning point, showing that there is plenty more to come from a player with bags of potential, a view shared by ex-United manager Casey Stoney. Stoney tweeted ‘Yes VBR!! Showing the talent that was always there’, following the match, in which Boe Risa scored the crucial second goal.
A versatile midfielder, Boe Risa is an impressive playmaker who is also capable of controlling play in the middle of the park; exactly the type of player United have been missing. Since the turn of the year she has played a key role in United’s progress, starting every game so far and adding another goal and an assist to her tally. The Norwegian international has swiftly become a fan favourite, with the supporters’ new song for her, to the tune of ‘I’m a Believer’ by Smash Mouth, a popular match day choice in the home end at Leigh Sports Village. Whilst it may have taken her a while to settle into life in the WSL, Boe Risa is one to watch throughout the second half of the season.
For those fans partial to a goalkeeper’s shirt, this one is for you! At just 21 years old Hannah Hampton has consistently shown herself to be amongst the best young talents in the league. So when Aston Villa manager Carla Ward made the summer switch from one side of Birmingham to the other, it was no surprise that she looked to take Hampton with her.
A regular across the England age group squads throughout her teenage years, Hampton is now knocking on the door for regular Lionesses selection, having been called up to the Arnold Clark Cup squad this week, her third senior call up in a row under Sarina Weigman. Villa’s undisputed no1 has made over 200 WSL saves and is a major part of Villa’s defensive solidity so far this season, her shot stopping and distribution making her the ideal modern goalkeeper. There is no doubt that if she continues to put on performances of this calibre, Hampton’s senior England debut will not be far away.
Next up is an Olympic gold medallist no less. Fresh off the back of her vital role in Canada’s Tokyo success, and with over 50 international caps under her belt, Deanne Rose is now wowing European audiences after signing her first professional contract with Reading.
Rose spent the last four years Stateside, combining football with her studies as a standout forward at the University of Florida, scoring 38 times in 53 appearances, before being drafted by the North Carolina Courage. However, the 22 year old opted for a move across the Atlantic instead, a decision Reading fans are undoubtedly delighted about.
Rose has breathed new life into Reading’s attack, with three goals and two assists so far this season. However, it was her final performance of 2021 that caught the eye of the masses, as Reading toppled reigning WSL champions Chelsea. Rose carved open the Blues defence to score the only goal of the game, sealing a famous upset, and ensuring everyone is aware of the talent she has brought to Reading and the WSL, if they weren’t already.
Tottenham Hotspur have been the surprise package of the season so far, currently sitting just one point off the Champions League places in fourth. Defensive improvements have been at the heart of their success, spearheaded by Molly Bartrip, signed over the summer to partner Shelina Zadorsky at centre back. Since Bartrip joined the club Tottenham have conceded just eleven league goals; with only the current top two conceding less. An unsung hero for a thriving Spurs side, the 25 year old has also played every league minute so far this season.
Something of a WSL stalwart, Bartrip began her youth career in Tottenham’s academy, before joining Reading back in 2014, where she established herself as a calm and composed defender, as accomplished in possession as she is defending one on one. After seven years with Reading Bartrip’s experience has been crucial for a Spurs side that is still relatively new to the WSL; she is a player that remains underrated despite another quietly brilliant season so far.