It has been a summer of significant signings for the Women’s Super League, with record-breaking transfer fees and the arrival of World Cup champions. However, it would seem Tottenham Hotspur have somewhat eclipsed the existing excitement, through their last-minute signing of American superstar, Alex Morgan.
The 31-year-old co-captain of the US Women’s National Team becomes the fifth player to join the WSL from the 2019 World Cup winning squad, with Manchester United recently confirming their double signing of Christen Press and Tobin Heath from the NWSL.
Morgan had only returned to training with her club, Orlando Pride, at the beginning of September after the birth of her daughter in May. The striker has spent four years at the club, whilst also enjoying a brief loan period at Lyon in 2016. She played a key role in taking the Pride to their first ever NWSL playoff final in 2017, and although she has suffered with several hamstring injuries in recent years, she has continued to consistently appear on the scoresheet.
It was initially reported that Morgan would be joining Spurs on a short-term loan until December. However, it has recently been confirmed that she has been signed for the entirety of the 2020/21 WSL season, and will be expected to return to Orlando Pride in time for their pre-season training which is set to begin in March 2021.
Morgan’s salary will continue to be paid by US Soccer
Morgan’s move comes after disruption to the NWSL, along with uncertainty surrounding how frequently matches would be played. With squad selection upcoming for the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, she says, “it hit me that I needed consistent games and consistent training for an entire season” along with a desire to “challenge myself and play in a different league than what I’m used to”.
Since she is still an allocated player in the NWSL, Morgan’s salary will continue to be paid by US Soccer and therefore her arrival has not incurred any fees for Tottenham Hotspur. Orlando Pride head coach, Marc Skinner, is in good spirits about the move and has expressed how it will “benefit Orlando, Alex and the national team, through Alex playing more games.”
The striker will join previous team-mates, Canadian and Australian internationals Shelina Zadorsky and Alanna Kennedy, who are on loan at Spurs from Orlando Pride. After having spent just one season in the WSL and finishing in seventh place, the North London side will be hoping to improve on their previous performance.
With an impressive defence in the likes of experienced players Kerys Harrop and Ashleigh Neville, there is an opportunity for Morgan to shine as a forward with the club, who will perhaps be able to pair her wisdom with the flair of 21-year-old top goal scorer, Rianna Dean.
Morgan is unique in being one of the only women to transcend her sport
Morgan’s move to Spurs is much more significant than being an excellent addition on the pitch. Although she has achieved incredible feats throughout her career, including over 100 international goals, two World Cup titles and an Olympic gold medal, she is unique in being one of the only women to “transcend her sport” and “hold a place in mainstream culture”.
Outside of the game, Morgan has acquired a degree in Political Economy from Berkeley and has authored a series of children’s books called “The Kicks”, which focus on teamwork and friendship. Furthermore, she boasts 9.1m followers on Instagram, more than the official Tottenham Hotspur account, with some claiming that she is on the way to making herself a brand, in the same way as Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi.
The arrival of Alex Morgan to the WSL will with no doubt bring an epic display of world-class skill and may indeed result in Spurs finishing in a better position than last season. Another high-profile addition to the league will certainly continue to boost its profile and global audience, with the hope of also promoting the women’s game as a whole as a highly impressive spectator sport.