Lauren James is a Blue - again
By Paul Lagan
The biggest unkept secret in women's football is finally official - Lauren James is a Chelsea player - again.
James, 19, has signed a very positive four-year deal at Kingsmeadow from Manchester United.
James said: “It’s a great feeling to come back home, to a great club, the club I started at the age of six.
“To be able to play for the first team now and come back here to Emma (Hayes) and the rest of the group is a good feeling.
“I’m excited to get started and I can’t wait to meet all the fans at Kingsmeadow when the new season kicks in.”
Chelsea manager Emma Hayes said: “Lauren is an exciting, young talent who we have admired for a while.
“When the opportunity came up to sign her, we felt now was the right time to bring her back to the club. We’re excited to see how she develops in the coming years and look forward to welcoming her to pre-season training.”
James was part of the Chelsea Academy from Under-10s to Under-14s
After a stint on the Chelsea books, the forward made her debut for Arsenal aged 16 in October 2017 before signing her first professional contract for Manchester United in July 2018.
James scored 14 goals in 18 league appearances to help United win promotion to the top flight of women’s football and her performances were rewarded with a call-up to the England Under-19 squad for the 2019 UEFA Under-19 Championship.
The 19-year-old made history by scoring Manchester United’s first-ever goal in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and finished as their top scorer in the 2019/20 season with six goals in 12 appearances.
She was also shortlisted for the PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year that season.
James, sister of Blues defender Reece James, has represented England at Under-17 and Under-19 level and received her first senior call up as part of a training camp in November 2020.
A technical player who is excellent in using her body to shield the ball, James has the ability to carry the ball past players with ease and she showed those qualities with a goal-of-the-season contender in a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea last season.
James arrival follows the departure of defender Hannah Blundell, who is making the reverse journey up North to United.