Exclusive: Lucy Bronze explores United States move after Manchester City contract ends this summer
England right-back Lucy Bronze is weighing up a move to the United States' NWSL, Telegraph Sport can reveal, with her contract at Manchester City expiring this summer.
The winner of the 2020 Fifa Best Player of the Year award, Bronze is understood to have received offers from multiple clubs in the NWSL and sources said her most likely destination would be America's west coast.
After winning the Champions League with Lyon three times, the 30-year-old had returned to Manchester City in 2020 for a second spell on a two-year deal. Bronze helped City to win the delayed 2020 FA Cup, this season's League Cup, and played in Sunday's FA Cup final, where Gareth Taylor's side took Chelsea to extra time.
It is understood Bronze - who previously played college football for North Carolina Tar Heels as a youngster - wants to experience playing in the NWSL while she remains at the top level of her career, and would prefer to move abroad rather than play for a domestic rival of Manchester City's because of her respect and fondness for the club. This makes her unlikely to join another English team.
However, a move to the NWSL in the coming months is complicated for two reasons. Firstly, the NWSL clubs' seasons run over the spring and summer months before concluding in October. Bronze will now spend this summer in camp with the England national team, who are hosting the Women's Euros in July, and therefore cannot join up with a new team until August at the earliest. One source felt it was possible that Bronze would sign for an NWSL team ahead of the 2023 NWSL season. Such a move could see Bronze seeking either a short-term extension at Manchester City or a short-term transfer elsewhere in the interim, in order to keep fit during the latter months of 2022.
Secondly, Bronze's NWSL rights are already owned by a team, understood to be Kansas City, and therefore any American club hoping to sign Bronze would need to pay them a fee to obtain her rights. That is part of an unusual system in the NWSL whereby clubs are permitted to buy the rights to players who have not yet played any football in the NWSL, and include them on their 'discovery list'. This can often happen without the player having a say in who obtains their rights.
Nonetheless, it would seem that Bronze's successful time with Manchester City is coming to an end. Asked how likely it is that she would still be a Manchester City player in 12 months' time, one source said there was 'less than 20 per cent' chance of that.
Bronze's exit would be a huge blow to the English club, and the league, as she has been one of the game's biggest stars since arriving in Manchester in 2014 and lifting back-to-back WSL titles with Liverpool. The 2019 Uefa Women's Player of the Year and two-time BBC Women's Footballer of the Year, Bronze will be an integral part of Sarina Wiegman's England side as they compete to win a first major international trophy in July.
Speaking in his post-match press conference after Sunday's final at Wembley, Manchester City head coach Gareth Taylor was asked how big a summer lay ahead for the club in the context of Bronze, Caroline Weir and Georgia Stanway’s current contracts all nearing a conclusion. Taylor replied: “Every summer is big, every summer is huge, there’s always going to be player turnover, incoming, outgoings. If we can limit some of that, we’d be in a much better place - you normally see that teams that operate and function at a decent level are the ones that have less 'surgery' in the summer.
"But at the end of the day, the game is the game and players have their ambitions or their lifestyle which may come into it. For us, we’re very at the front of trying to secure these players. Players go, players come, it’s as simple as that.
"We want players who want to be here, that’s the main thing."
Taylor was keen to stress nobody had given anything but full commitment to the team's cause, adding: "Those players [Bronze, Weir and Stanway] today, regardless of what happens going forward from this, showed real character and personality, and pride in their performance.
"We’ve got a lot of good young talent coming through the club as well, so I think the future’s bright."