Since the top flight of women’s football in England changed its league name to the WSL, Chelsea have been the outright dominant force.
While the Blues’ form in the men’s game faltered following their Champions League success in 2021, no such drop-off has been endured by Chelsea Women, although they are still yet to claim an elusive first European trophy.
Domestic glory has been a consistent factor of their time under Emma Hayes’ management, however, with Chelsea winning the WSL in four consecutive seasons between 2019-20 and 2022-23, while they also lifted the trophy in 2015 and 2018 too.
Naturally, they have spent a fair amount of money on new signings in order to maintain their place at the top of the English football tree, but this tally is completely dwarfed by their male counterparts at Stamford Bridge.
Below, FootballTransfers runs through Chelsea Women’s five most expensive transfers of all time.
5. Fran Kirby – €67k (from Reading, 2015)
Fran Kirby is one of Chelsea’s greatest ever players and has been there from the very beginning of their stranglehold on women’s football in England.
The attacking midfielder joined the Blues from second-tier Reading having scored a ridiculous 71 goals in just 46 games for the club.
— Chelsea FC Women (@ChelseaFCW) November 6, 2023
She had also already earned her first senior England call-up by the time she signed for Chelsea and Kirby went from strength to strength upon arriving in west London.
Her best goal-scoring season at Chelsea remains the 2020-21 campaign, when Kirby netted 28 goals in 34 appearances in all competitions.
4. Nathalie Bjorn – €145k (from Everton, 2024)
Nathalie Bjorn is the latest player to join this list after she joined Chelsea from Everton for €145,000 in January 2024.
The Sweden international made her international debut back in 2016 and Bjorn earned a move to Everton in 2021. The versatile player impressed during her time on Merseyside and won Everton’s Player of the Year award in her final full season at the club.
She joined Chelsea midway through the 2023-24 campaign.
3. Mia Fishel – €231k (from Tigres, 2023)
Mia Fishel arrived at Chelsea with serious pedigree having scored 47 goals in just 64 games for Tigres UNAL.
It was a surprise when Fishel decided to move to Mexican giants Tigres after leaving college, however.
Fishel Firsts 🐠
— U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (@USWNT) November 3, 2023
Despite being selected by the Orlando Pride in the NWSL draft, the prolific UCLA Bruins attacker opted to move south in search of championship glory, winning the 2022 Liga MX Apertura and the Campeon de Campeones.
Furthermore, she won the U20 CONCACAF Golden Ball award in 2020 and set a new all-ages American record of 13 goals during the tournament, including a brace in the final, before joining Chelsea.
2. Lauren James – €234k (from Man Utd, 2021)
The younger sister of Chelsea star Reece, Lauren James joined her brother in west London in 2021 following an impressive spell at Manchester United.
The forward scored 14 goals in 18 league games to help guide Man Utd to promotion to the WSL in the 2018-19 season, and she scored the club’s first-ever goal in the top flight of English women’s football.
Before joining Man Utd, James made her senior debut for Arsenal, becoming the second youngest female player to achieve this feat at the age of 16.
She was included in the FIFA FifPro Women’s World XI for 2023 after starring for Chelsea and England.
1. Pernille Harder – €290k (from Wolfsburg, 2020)
Pernille Harder joined Chelsea from Wolfsburg in 2020 to become the world’s most expensive female footballer at the time. She cost Chelsea for a reported fee of €290,000, which broke a 20-year record for a signing in the women’s game.
Harder won UEFA’s Women’s Player of the Year in both 2018 and 2020 and she netted 27 Bundesliga goals in 21 games in her final season at Wolfsburg to set a new record for the highest tally ever recorded in a single campaign in the division’s history.
Harder went on to score 17 goals in her debut campaign at Chelsea, helping the side win the WSL and reach the Champions League final for the first time in their history.
After that run to the final Harder was selected in the competition’s Team of the Season for the fifth consecutive year.
Harder and her partner Magdalena Eriksson both left Chelsea to join Bayern Munich in 2023. She left the Blues with 44 goals in 81 games and seven major honours.
The five most expensive Chelsea Women signings of all time
|1. Pernille Harder
|2. Lauren James
|3. Mia Fishel
|4. Nathalie Bjorn
|5. Fran Kirby