Vivianne Miedema set to remain in WSL despite Arsenal departure

Vivianne Miedema will depart Arsenal Women at the end of the 2023/24 season, as confirmed by the club on Monday.

Since her arrival in 2017, the 27-year-old Dutch forward has secured legendary status with the club – becoming the WSL’s all-time leading goalscorer and breaking countless records with the North London side.

But while Miedema spent time away from the pitch to recover from an anterior cruciate ligament injury, Jonas Eidevall’s side appear to have moved on and the curtains will be drawn on her career in red and white when the Gunners host Brighton on Saturday.

On 15 December 2022, Miedema’s ACL ruptured during Arsenal’s UEFA Women’s Champions League clash with Olympique Lyonnais. The road to recovery was an arduous one, but the Dutch forward returned in October 2023.

Her recovery took a turn in early 2024 though, with the club confirming that minor knee surgery would be required, resulting in a further six-week absence.

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It is no secret that Arsenal possess one of the greatest frontlines in world football, with that quality not limited to just the starting front three. Eidevall has a plethora of talent at his disposal, developing an armoury of first-class forwards over the last few years.

With Miedema having cumulatively missed almost twelve months of football as a result of her injury, the Swedish manager has been forced to adapt. Stina Blackstenius and signing Alessia Russo have shared the responsibilities of leading the line, often flanked by Beth Mead, Caitlin Foord or Cloé Lacasse.

Billed as a ‘nine-and-a-half’ by many due to her ability to expertly occupy the space between an out-and-out striker and a traditional number 10, Miedema’s versatility was crucial to Arsenal for so many years.

Put simply, the Dutch international was a workhorse – but that unwavering effort did not come at the expense of flair. Miedema could silence even the most ardent critics of women’s football with just a two-minute compilation, such was her technical prowess on the ball and her ability to identify spaces off it.

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Arsenal will, for better or for worse, be a changed side without the 27-year-old. Replacements have already been lined up, with @Stillmanator reporting that the club are keen to finalise a move for Barcelona’s Mariona Caldentey – a FIFA Women’s World Cup winner with Spain and a forward with the chance to pick up a third UEFA Women’s Champions League medal on May 25.

Fans are understandably frustrated at Miedema’s departure, with criticism on social media directed at Eidevall and other senior figures within the club as the Dutch forward was reportedly not offered a new contract. Since making an eight-minute cameo in her latest return from injury on April 21, Miedema has not featured again – and fans will be hoping that she is afforded prolonged playing time on Saturday as an era comes to a close.

The 27-year-old will leave Arsenal on a free transfer when her contract expires at the end of the season, with Manchester City billed as her likely destination. If those reports prove to hold weight, she would link up with fellow Dutch internationals Kerstin Casparij and Jill Roord, the latter of whom she previously played alongside at Arsenal.