Arsenal sign former Euro Golden Boot winner to start WSL title bid

Jodie Taylor has scored 19 times in 51 games for England – AFP/Tobias Schwarz

Arsenal have bolstered their attacking options for the remainder of the Women’s Super League title race by adding 36-year-old England veteran Jodie Taylor to their ranks on a free transfer.

Taylor, who signed for the north London club until the end of the season after her contract with American NWSL club San Diego Wave expired, will only be eligible to play for WSL games. Arsenal didn’t sign her up for the women’s Champions League squad ahead of Tuesday’s European quarter-final first leg against Bayern Munich.

“It feels great to be back — like I’ve never been away,” Taylor said. “To have this opportunity to return to the club I love so much is incredible.

Winner of the Women’s Champions League with French club Lyon in 2020, Taylor need only score the crucial goal or two that could mean the difference in an ever-closer race for the WSL title and the four-way battle for the three-coveted European qualification places.

A free-kick for Arsenal that might pay off

By Tom Garry

Jodie Taylor with Arsenal women's head coach Jonas Eidevall - Getty Images/David Price

Jodie Taylor with Arsenal women’s head coach Jonas Eidevall – Getty Images/David Price

This is a surprise move from Arsenal and for many fans Taylor’s arrival could feel like nothing more than a consolation prize compared to the club’s attempts to sign England star Alessia Russo, 24, from Manchester United on January transfer window deadline. Arsenal were also heavily linked with Brazil’s Debinha as well as Lyon’s Signe Bruun in January.

In comparison, Taylor is nearing the end of her career and hasn’t scored in over 10 months. The Euro 2017 Golden Boot winner, who scored five goals for the Lionesses at their tournament, had previously scored ten goals in 17 games for Arsenal in her first spell with the club in 2016 and 2017, but she has netted just once in 14 NWSL games for San Diego Wave and is certainly not the deadly threat in front of goal it once was.

However, Arsenal are currently lacking depth in attack amid long-term injuries Ballon d’Or nominee Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema, Taylor’s signing is something of a free-kick for the WSL side and could prove a valuable move for Arsenal in more ways than one.

It feels no different than Manchester United’s acquisition of former Birmingham City and Tottenham Hotspur striker Rachel Williams – now aged 35 – last summer, with Williams’ move at the time considered partly motivated by a desire to gain experience in the squad while helping to nurture Manchester United’s youth.

Williams’ signing from Manchester United was derided by many fans for a lack of ambition and her goal return from three in ten WSL substitute games off the bench is hardly electric, but one of those was an invaluable late winner in a 1-0 away win at Reading, and her coming on late in the games has allowed Marc Skinner to give his first-choice forward more rest.

Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall will feel similarly about taking on Taylor, who plays with a different style to Williams, but will also bring heaps of experience, allowing him to rest Stina Blackstenius late in games and increasing competition for places.

And with Arsenal aiming for a first league title since 2019, every goal could be crucial.

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