Ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 this summer, women’s football has already seen some impressive growth in the transfer market.

FIFA’s 2022 transfer report revealed that international transfers in the women’s game have doubled since 2018, with 500 clubs involved last year, and FIFA’s chief legal and compliance officer Emilio Garcia Silvero said: “All of this reflects the impressive strides being taken as more and more female players continue to turn professional. Some 1,555 international transfers were recorded in 2022, an increase of 19.3% compared to the previous year, while a new high of 119 associations were involved in international transfers.”

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Already there have been some big deals agreed among the biggest clubs — with the English Women’s Super League (WSL) window opening on June 26 and most of the rest of Europe on July 1. Here are grades for all the major summer transfers in the women’s game, with each listed in order of date and then highest fee.

All fees are reported unless confirmed with an asterisk (*).

July 1

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Chelsea: C
Bayern: A

Despite the silverware picked up at Chelsea, it felt as if the fans never got to see the very best of Harder in London, especially not for the then-world-record fee in excess of £250,000 the Blues paid in 2020. Losing her on a free feels like a twist of the knife. A successful spell from the outside, there will always be a sense of “what could have been” about her spell at Chelsea.

This is a smart move by Bayern, not just scooping Harder up as a free agent but bringing the Denmark international back to the Frauen-Bundesliga where she enjoyed the best spell of her career at Wolfsburg. Bayern are still undergoing a rebuild under Alexander Straus, and Harder is a perfect player to build the attack around.

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Chelsea: B+
Bayern: A

Eriksson had already proved herself when she joined Chelsea in 2017, but few fans would have expected the Sweden international to captain the team and become one of their unsung heroes as they amassed domestic silverware. Her time at the club was so happy that many were shocked when she reached a standstill over a new contract and announced her intention to leave. Overall, the move should work for both parties, but her time at Chelsea felt as if it ended a little too soon.

Eriksson and Harder were a package deal for Bayern, as the couple wanted to keep playing at the same club. But Bayern did well to fight off competition and secure the services of both. Like Harder, Eriksson has the ability to be a linchpin in Germany, and with defensive outgoings announced, her experience will be key.

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Man United: B-
Barcelona: A

As is the theme of free agents leaving WSL clubs for those competing in the latter stages of the Champions League, a key player is departing. During her stay in Manchester, Batlle became integral in the United attack and was the best right-back in the WSL. Overall, the Red Devils got their money’s worth in three years, but she leaves a sizeable hole on the right side.

There is something canny about how and when Barcelona swooped in for Batlle, letting United augment her growth over the last three years while they were unwilling to part with €500,000 for her services in 2020 — a Liga F specific clause that didn’t affect United. Instead, the Catalans secured Batlle’s signature on a free, landing a world-class defender who came through La Masia, is already plugged into the Barcelona style and is only 24. Unquestionably a good footballing move as well as a good business move from the club.

June 26

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Lyon: B
Chelsea: A

Possibly a slight gamble for Lyon initially, with Macario untested at the professional level, the United States international excelled during her time with the French champions before tearing her ACL. Forced into a season-long rehab, Macario’s time in France will be remembered as truncated — almost a stepping stone — but there’s no question of how well she fit into the team before her injury.

There’s still a sense of gamble with Macario, as she’s not played in over a year. However, her natural ability has given Chelsea fans plenty of reason to be excited. With manager Emma Hayes picking the attacker up on a free transfer after the expiry of her contract, there’s ultimately little in the way of risk. And Macario is a natural fit in the Blues’ team.

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Summer transfer window: Grading big signings in women’s soccer