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Chelsea Ladies sign Fran Kirby for British record fee

Image: Fran Kirby will leave Reading after 15 years' service

Chelsea Ladies have signed England international Fran Kirby from Reading for a British record transfer fee.

Striker Kirby, who had been a part of the Reading set-up since the age of eight, was in demand after her performances at the recent Women's World Cup in Canada, where she helped England claim a bronze medal.

Dubbed the 'Mini Messi', Kirby scored England's first goal of the tournament in the 2-1 win over Mexico after going into the competition in red-hot form - she scored 11 goals in Reading's first five games of the season before leaving on England duty.

After signing a three-and-a-half year deal, Kirby said: "Chelsea is one of the best clubs in the world and now is a really good time for me to step up in my career.

"Myself and my family feel very privileged to be a part of the club. It’s pretty incredible for me, the last couple of months have been a bit of a whirlwind and moving here is the cherry on top."

Manager Emma Hayes added: "We’re delighted we’ve been able to get Fran on board, she is a very exciting young talent and I think she can go on to become a Chelsea great. Our aim is to win trophies here and Fran can play a major part in that for years to come."

Fran Kirby #22 with teammate Lucy Bronze #12
Image: Kirby (No 22) was one of the stars of England's run at the Women's World Cup

There was a sense of disappointment for Reading manager Kelly Chambers, but she admitted there was no way she wanted to stifle Kirby's career with the promise of Women's Super League and Champions League football on the table.

Chambers added: "Of course there is sadness to see Fran leave the club that she has been at for 15 years. I have been lucky enough to have worked with her in all the time she has been here.

"I have seen her develop as person as well as a player. It was a really hard decision for me to let Fran go but it is something that I felt I needed to let Fran do. I have a squad that is strong enough to still try and achieve promotion and they have proven this in the first half of the season."

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