Updated: Jan 1, 2020
Manchester United have signed Dutch defender and Euro 2017-winning midfielder Jackier Groenen to their team as the first foreign player in the team’s history. The move comes after a successful campaign that saw United promoted from the FA Women’s Championship to the Super League for the 2019-20 season. Groenen represents the most high-profile signing in the team’s history and their first foreign player. To this point the team has been comprised of English and Scottish players, mostly from the team’s academy. The move represents a real intent by Manchester United to boost their efforts in promoting the women’s game and giving the team the best chance of competing with the likes of current champions Arsenal. The 24-year-old midfielder has spent the last four years with FFC Frankfurt in Germany where she made 79 appearances and scored 13 goals. She has also become a consistent face in the national team and will be featured in the Dutch World Cup team that begins play in France in less than two weeks. This move, coupled with a growing interest from major teams like Real Madrid to join the women’s game, shows a continued increase in investment by European teams. For many years the NWSL was considered one of the better places for women to ply their craft but now it appears that Europe is catching up at an amazing pace. Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are fielding teams in England with Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and others doing the same in Spain. Groenen joining the English Super League means that access to the top players in Europe will not be as easy as it used to be. The options are growing for players and with the money of major teams behind them, we may be entering a Golden Age for the women’s game in Europe.