Chelsea have signed Lauren James from Manchester United on a four-year deal until June 2025.
This move sees James return to Chelsea after previously representing the Blues at Academy level before switching to Arsenal prior to making a move to Manchester United in Summer 2018, where she helped the Red Devils clinch promotion from the 2018-19 Women’s Championship in their first season.
James went on to score 28 goals in 56 appearances for Man Utd in all competitions across the last three seasons, helping the team to an eventual fourth-placed finish last season in a campaign which saw her called up to the England Lionesses squad in November 2020 for a training camp.
Speaking on her decision to return to Chelsea, coincidentally where her brother – Reece James plays for the men’s team, Lauren said: “It’s a great feeling to come back home, to a great club, the club I started at the age of six.”
James also described the opportunity to return as a member of the first team squad and play for Emma Hayes as “a great feeling”, as the Blues prepare to mount a second consecutive title defence and seek European glory after missing out on Women’s Champions League title last season to Barcelona.
Hayes in turn praised James as “an exciting, young talent” who has been on the club’s radar for a while after impressing at Utd, with now feeling like “the right time to bring her back” to her childhood club and cannot wait to see James’ development in coming seasons.
This announcement comes just hours after Hannah Blundell departed the Blues to join Man Utd on a two-year contract, with both players now set to face their former clubs on the weekend of 24-26 September 2021 at Leigh Sports Village.
The return leg at Kingsmeadow is currently scheduled for the final day of season on Sunday 8 May in what could potentially be a title decider.
James’ first match as a Chelsea player however could come in their season-opener at Arsenal on the weekend of 3-5 September.