Here, the PA news agency picks five players to look out for in the WSL as the new campaign gets underway.
Alessia Russo (Arsenal)
First training session with The Arsenal.
— Arsenal Women (@ArsenalWFC) August 29, 2023
Arsenal tried and failed – with a rumoured world-record bid – to reach an agreement with Manchester United to sign England forward Russo during the January transfer window, but the Gunners finally landed their coveted target on a free transfer in July.
Russo hit 10 goals in the WSL last season as United finished runners-up to champions Chelsea and was boss Sarina Wiegman’s first-choice centre forward for the World Cup, where she netted three times for the runners-up.
With Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema also set for imminent returns from their respective anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, head coach Jonas Eidevall will boast an intimidating wealth of options in attack.
Hinata Miyazawa (Manchester United)
Say hello to our newest Red: Hinata Miyazawa #MUWomen
— Manchester United Women (@ManUtdWomen) September 6, 2023
While Brazil international Geyse, a Champions League winner last season with Barcelona, will likely be seen as the most direct replacement for Russo, boss Marc Skinner will also be buoyed by the arrival of Japan international Miyazawa from WE League side MyNavi Sendai.
Versatile Miyazawa’s five goals in four games at the World Cup were good enough to secure her the tournament’s Golden Boot, and her breakthrough performance also landed the 23-year-old nominations for both the Ballon d’Or and FIFA Best Women’s Player of 2023.
With United playing more matches this season after securing a Champions League berth for the first time, Miyazawa adds pivotal depth to Skinner’s squad.
Mary Fowler (Manchester City)
While Fowler is not a new face at Manchester City, where she signed a four-year deal last June, the forward may find herself under a much brighter spotlight this season after helping Australia reach a first-ever semi-final in a Women’s World Cup.
Fowler was instrumental in ensuring the Matildas secured safe passage out of the group stage even without prolific striker and skipper Sam Kerr, who returned for the knockouts following a calf injury.
The 20-year-old netted in Australia’s 4-0 group stage victory over Canada, teed up Caitlin Foord with a brilliant through ball in her side’s last-16 victory over Denmark and scored a perfect penalty against France in a nervy quarter-final shootout – the longest in Women’s World Cup history – to solidify her status as one to watch.
Catarina Macario (Chelsea)
A smile to make you smile! pic.twitter.com/6f6tWEiKJO
— Chelsea FC Women (@ChelseaFCW) August 8, 2023
Macario became one of the many victims of the ACL injury crisis plaguing women’s football whilst playing for Lyon in June 2022 and has yet to return to action – but that did not stop WSL title-holders Chelsea from signing the 23-year-old to a three-year deal in July.
Though still in the early stages of her career, the American forward, who joins the Blues after two seasons with Lyon, has already accomplished something her decorated new boss Emma Hayes has not: winning a Champions League trophy.
Macario, who can play as a central striker or an attacking midfielder, scored 23 goals in 33 games for Lyon in 2021/22 and could prove a key component of Hayes’ European plans once deemed fit to return.
Daphne van Domselaar (Aston Villa)
Aston Villa boss Carla Ward was in search of a new goalkeeper after former first choice Hannah Hampton, whose contract had expired, also joined Hayes’ ranks over the summer.
Villa, who finished fifth last season, have signalled their intent to take on the league’s top sides with a busy transfer window and were delighted after beating big European challengers to secure the services of Netherlands goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar from FC Twente for the next three years.
The three-time Eredivisie Vrouwen winner, who joins Villa from FC Twente, was also the Netherlands’ first-choice shot-stopper at the World Cup.