Will Vivianne Miedema to Manchester City be the signing of the summer?

It’s the move north that Reds everywhere dreaded, but Blues in Manchester relished. Manchester City confirmed this morning that Dutch international Vivianne Miedema, who left Arsenal this summer after seven years, joins this season’s Barclays Women’s Super League runners-up on a free transfer.

This summer’s transfer window has already seen some seismic departures, but this is definitely one of the first arrivals to make a real splash – partly because it’s one of the only transfers between two big-name WSL clubs. Miedema has been such an iconic figure for the Gunners that for her to move to their table-neighbours will seriously sting for fans (though there’s not likely to be any bad blood towards Miedema herself). The story around Miedema so far has generally been about what Arsenal are losing – but now, it becomes about what Manchester City will gain. Could this be the signing that closes the gap between Gareth Taylor’s side and an Emma Hayes-less Chelsea?

If somehow you’re unfamiliar with the work of Vivianne Miedema, let’s have a brief overview. She started out with SC Heerenveen as a 14-year-old in the Eredivisie, moved to Bayern Munich at 18, and joined Arsenal three years later. Since moving to the WSL, she’s become the league’s all-time leading goalscorer, won the Golden Boot twice, and been shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or Féminin three times. In international terms, she is the Netherlands’ all-time leading goalscorer (male or female) and has won the women’s EUROs with them in 2017, plus a runners-up finish at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

That quick list of accolades and statistics speaks for itself – it’s pretty clear why many Arsenal fans are so gutted to lose her. 125 goals and 50 assists in 172 appearances are some pretty big shoes to fill. Those statistics make the club’s decision not to renew the striker’s contract seem bizarre – especially when you consider the talent that they have effectively handed over to one of their biggest rivals.

(Photo by Isaac Parkin/Manchester City FC)

It’s not necessarily that Manchester City don’t have good goalscorers. In fact, it was their striker Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw that won this year’s Golden Boot and terrorised every defence she set her sights on. Lauren Hemp was fifth in the league’s scoring chart too, and while Chloe Kelly and Jill Roord didn’t manage to hit double digits, they’re not exactly faces you want to see bearing down on your goal. On the face of it, they don’t technically need Miedema.

But it’s not just goals she provides; looking at 2022/23, according to FotMob, Miedema ranked among the best attacking midfielders in the WSL for long ball accuracy, chances created, and pass accuracy. That’s impressive enough on its own. Now take a step back and remember that she ruptured her ACL halfway through that season. When you toggle those stats to per 90 minutes, accounting for her injury-enforced absence, she shoots up in the ranks for touches in the opposition box, successful passes, recoveries… the list goes on and on. She is a creative source as well as someone who can find the back of the net. The thought of her linking up with Bunny Shaw is frankly terrifying for the rest of the WSL.

It also couldn’t come at a better time for Manchester City. The departure of Emma Hayes begs the question of whether Chelsea can keep their stranglehold on the league title, and if not, who can snatch it from them? Manchester United came close in 2022/23, but proceeded to slip down to their worst-ever league finish in 5th last season and don’t really look like title challengers. That leaves Arsenal and City, and the latter were snapping at Chelsea’s heels even last season. They ended the Blues’ record 33-game home unbeaten run, and only fell behind them in the final table on goal difference – having now kicked Arsenal in the teeth by signing Miedema, Gareth Taylor’s Cityzens have a better chance than ever of closing the gap to Chelsea and winning a first league title since 2016.

Arsenal can hardly complain. It was, apparently, the club’s decision not to offer their star a new contract, and they must have known that a move to a WSL rival was possible (or even likely, considering her partner Beth Mead doesn’t look like leaving Arsenal anytime soon).

They’ll just have to hope they don’t live to regret it when she visits the Emirates as an opponent next season. You can follow the WSL transfer window as it continues right here on FromTheSpot.

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