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Keira Walsh and the new summer of transfer madness


After the 2023 Women’s World Cup, English media took a survey in England of the most recognisable members of the women’s team, the Lionesses, and Keira Walsh came dead last. And while most of the rest of the team do get national recognition outside of football circles, like advertisements for England’s Women’s Super League (WSL), that really says something about how discreet Walsh (much like her role on the pitch) tends to be.

Keira Walsh / FC Barcelona

So it is something of a sudden gear change that transfer season, itself still quite a low-key affair in women’s football, seems to go into overdrive whenever it seems possible Walsh might be on the move.

In 2019 and 2020, as perhaps only the hardcore fans back then will remember, there were thinkpieces drawn up when the possibility of Walsh moving to Lyon arose – and even more when, surprisingly, she didn’t. Perhaps the attention was due to how relatively small the women’s transfer market was then, and how rare it was for English players to go abroad besides the United States.

Come 2022, the attention was firmly on Walsh herself. Days after spearheading the Lionesses to Euros glory, she took a call from Barcelona. As it turns out, there had been contact between the Catalan club and the midfielder’s agents before the tournament, but nothing to alert Walsh herself about. And the interest was much firmer after the Euros, from Barcelona and from the devotees of women’s football.

August was a “will they, won’t they” of unprecedented proportions, complete with X (then, Twitter) edits and memes asking her to come to sunny Catalunya. The mid-August rumour (that became reality) of a potential world record fee only fuelled more interest and chismes – as did Walsh’s club at the time, Manchester City, playing two matches in Madrid, with half a dozen Barcelona staff showing up.

Keira Walsh played for Manchester City for eight years / Getty Images

Within England, the status of the transfer drama came as a combination of the skyrocketing profile of the Lionesses, and the fact City had already lost more players than they’d like. In Barcelona, Walsh was instantly popular before she even got here: poised to be an exciting player on the cusp of her prime, she had long talked about how the blaugrana influenced her, and for some years had been hailed as the second coming of Sergio Busquets.

Who’s to say if fan and media pressure might have helped get the world record deal done on deadline day in 2022.

But it seems unlikely now that any level of fan engagement will have an impact on Arsenal maybe, or maybe not, looking to buy Walsh in summer 2024. For the uninitiated, Arsenal is the most incredibly social media-friendly team in the WSL, and has the erratic following and large stadium attendances to match: a lot of fans, with a lot of engagement.

Walsh playing against Arsenal in 2014 / Manchester City

And like the other WSL clubs with serious trophy aspirations (all three of them), Arsenal has also had interest in acquiring Walsh for several years. Something that never really seemed to be possible before, but they seem to fancy their chances now.

A slow drip of reports has effectively pointed out the obvious, that Arsenal is interested in Walsh, and added a variety of different flavours of how this interest is being received on the other side – for what it’s worth, as we reported, sources told Blaugranagram that Barcelona, and Walsh, would be willing to negotiate but there is nothing on the table yet. The intermittent coverage and alternating attitudes on the likelihood of a transfer has created a crescendo in terms of attention. Then some latent implications of a transfer deal, plus a dash of unwarranted speculation, has only heightened it.

If a similar pattern of news, and engagement, continues then we can expect a rollercoaster of transfer speculation madness that could last nearly three months before the window closes. Meanwhile, Keira Walsh herself will be on a short break before getting back to work with the Lionesses.





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