The Women's Super League summer transfer window came to a close on Thursday as clubs prepared for the start of the highly anticipated 2022-23 season.
It was originally set to kick off on Saturday, with Tottenham taking on Manchester United at Tottenham Hotspur stadium, but was postponed along with all football fixtures across the country following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday. Whenever things do begin, the league will be looking to capitalise of the back of a successful few months for women's football in England. The Lionesses won their first title on home soil in a 2-1 victory over Germany in front of a record crowd at Wembley as the European Championships headlined the summer, breaking several records for attendance and viewership in the process.
While the Euros took centre stage, WSL teams have been preparing for the season and notable transfers have been made across the league with several of the top teams seeing big names join their ranks while some key players have retired.
So, with the summer transfer window now closed, attention turns to the start of the league and how clubs have integrated their new signings and who will make the biggest impact on the pitch. Here are the key signings to look out for ahead of the 2022-23 WSL season.
Chelsea add defensive experience and versatility to powerhouse squad
Reigning champions Chelsea have bolstered their squad with experienced defensive talent in Kadeisha Buchanan and Eve Perisset as they look to win a fourth consecutive WSL title, and aim to win the Champions League for the first time.
Buchanan joins the Blues from Lyon, where she spent five-and-a-half years and won five Champions League titles. The Canada international has played for her country 123 times and was a key member of the squad that won gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. An experienced defender, the 26-year-old, who was nominated for the Ballon d'Or in 2015, will add the experience of playing in big European games that Chelsea is looking for to help them compete in the Champions League this year.
Chelsea also added defender Perisset from Bordeaux, who will bring versatility to the squad. Perisset is able to play both full-back positions or further upfield in a No.6 role, which will allow for Chelsea to make more adjustments to their line-up through league and cup competitions. The 27-year-old France international, who was a key player for her country at the Euros this summer, signed a three-year contract with the club and becomes the first France women's player to play for Chelsea.
Manager Emma Hayes may look to push Perisset into a defensive midfield role as Chelsea suffered a big loss in the departure of midfielder Ji So-Yun, who left the club after eight years to return to South Korea. So-Yun scored 37 goals in 124 appearances and as one of the club's longest serving players, her presence will be surely missed.
Manchester City look to offset departures with big signings
Manchester City's summer business leaves them as one of the most interesting clubs to keep an eye on this season. With a mass exodus of key players and personalities who have played a big part in their success, City are hoping to balance out those departures with several young, exciting signings.
But before we can talk about who has arrived at the Manchester club this summer, we have to talk about the players who left. England internationals, and European champions, Keira Walsh, Lucy Bronze and Georgia Stanway are among key names exiting, with the first two headed Barcelona and Stanway to Bayern Munich. Meanwhile midfielder Caroline Weir moved to Real Madrid, while forward Janine Beckie opted for a move to the NWSL with the Portland Thorns.
Walsh is arguably the biggest loss for City as the midfielder signed for Barcelona on just ahead of Thursday's deadline for a world-record fee. (For context, four of those players -- Walsh, Bronze, Stanway and Weir -- were all in the starting line-up when City took on Chelsea in the FA Cup final in May.) Meanwhile Ellen White, Jill Scott -- who were both a part of the Euro winning squad -- and Karen Bardsley all announced their retirements in the last month, which leaves an irreplaceable gap, as each of them is not only a great player, but a big personality and leader in the dressing room as well.
The impact of these departures remains to be seen, but City have brought in exciting young talent with hopes of challenging again for the title.
Forward Deyna Castellanos joins from Atletico Madrid and is sure to bring the fire power their attack needs. The 23-year-old Venezuela international will play alongside the likes of Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp up front. Castellanos' Atletico Madrid teammate Laia Aleixandri also arrives this summer, with the 21-year-old tabbed for a big defensive role.
Also added were 19-year-old Australian international Mary Fowler from Montpellier, a forward who can slot into the midfield when required. Fowler scored five times in 15 appearances as Montpellier finished fifth in the Division 1 Féminine. Goalkeeper Sandy McIver from Everton and defender Leila Ouahabi from Barcelona provide fresh depth to their squad as well.
Arsenal bring in fire power to bolster attack
Arsenal have had the quietest transfer window of the top teams, with Jonas Eidevall adding only a few players to the squad that finished second in 2021-22.
With Arsenal looking to reclaim the title from Chelsea, the focus was on successfully retaining core players like Leah Williamson, Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema for another season. You could even argue that Miedema signing a new one-year contract in May was some of the best business the London club has done in the past year.
In addition to keeping some stars, they have added power with forward Lina Hurtig from Juventus, easily the Gunners' biggest signing of the summer. The 26-year-old won two league titles, two Italian Super Cups and one Coppa Italia since joining Juventus in 2020. She is most comfortable playing out on the left, with dangerous crosses and is a big presence in the box when she cuts in from the wing.
Where she slots into this Arsenal side remains to be seen, but with Miedema potentially dropping further back into midfield, we could see Hurtig alongside Stina Blackstenius with Mead out on the right. It's a combination any opponent would find difficult to contain.
Manchester United add depth in attack
Manchester United have been consistently on the edge of Champions League qualification, finishing fourth in the past two seasons. Gunning for that third-place spot and looking to make a case for themselves as a title contender, United have brought in depth and more fire power to give them a fighting chance.
England international Nikita Parris joins United from a spell at Arsenal, where she struggled to get minutes, and the 28-year-old can make an instant impact alongside other England stars like Ella Toone and Alessia Russo.
United also brought in Spain forward Lucia Garcia from Athletic Bilbao, who scored 63 goals in 161 appearance for the club. The 23-year-old will join former Tottenham forward Rachel Williams and West Ham forward Adriana Leon as new signings in the United attacking ranks.
Aston Villa made a big move to bring in England's Rachel Daly from the Houston Dash, midfielder Lisa Evans made a permanent move from Arsenal to West Ham, after spending last season there on loan, and Tottenham have brought in experience in Drew Spence, who joins as a free agent after having spent a decade at Chelsea.