Lucy Bronze: Potential destinations for the England star’s next club

Lucy Bronze for England runs on the pitch
Lucy Bronze of England during the FIFA Women's World Cup Group D match between China and England (Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images)

Lucy Bronze’s two-year contract with FC Barcelona is due to expire this summer. With a renewal reportedly unlikely, we’ve taken a look at the top potential destinations for the England star as she looks set for a new club.

The right-back has so far played in France, England and Spain, with a short collegiate season in the United States as well. There will be no shortage of clubs interested in a player of her calibre and experience. Nevertheless, some are more likely than others to convince Bronze to put pen to paper.

It’s coming home: The WSL

Bronze has played most of her senior career in England with stints at Sunderland, Everton, Liverpool, and Manchester City. Though she has gone on record saying that she prefers to play in foreign leagues, a return to the motherland could be on the cards.

Most likely club: Manchester City

Bronze has played five seasons and made 65 appearances for Man City — the most of any club in her career. The Sky Blues’ defensive line currently features international stars such as fellow Lionesses Alex Greenwood, Demi Stokes and Steph Houghton.

Though the side have conceded the fewest goals of any WSL team this season, their past relationship with Bronze makes them the frontrunner. Her reluctance to play for an English rival was reportedly a key factor in her decision to move to Spain

Embed from Getty Images

Adding a Fourth Language: Frauen-Bundesliga

For the past nine years, the top flight of German women’s football has been a two-horse race. Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich have flip-flopped for first and second place, with Bayern coming out on top last season. 

A stint in Germany would give Bronze the opportunity to continue playing Champions League football, as well as add a fourth language to her resume. She currently speaks English, Portuguese, French and some Spanish.

While it would be a surprising move, the defender has previously expressed a desire to step out of her comfort zone, stating: “I’m someone who is open to opportunities — my career has shown that. I like different challenges in different places.”

Embed from Getty Images

Most likely club: Wolfsburg

Though Bayern have developed a more international-friendly squad than their counterparts, Wolfsburg have a significant edge when it comes to budget.

Further, the side have proven themselves to be Champions League contenders. They’ve made six Champions League finals since 2013, and have won twice.

Anecdotally, Bronze’s side has triumphed over Die Wölfinnen in the final three times, with Lyon coming out on top in 17/18 and 19/20, and Barcelona lifting the trophy in 22/23.

Back to France: Division 1 Féminine

Bronze is no stranger to French football, having played for Lyon from 2017 until 2020. During that time, she picked up three Champions League trophies and three domestic league titles. 

Despite the staggering success, a return to Lyon is not the most likely option. The French Giants already have Aussie international Ellie Carpenter who prefers to play at right-back. Carpenter penned a long-term contract with the club last summer which runs until 2026.

Embed from Getty Images

The summer contract expirations of French internationals Griedge Mbock and Perle Morroni could change the landscape of the Lyon backline, but it’s unlikely that Bronze would slot in seamlessly. All other defenders, including Wendie Renard, Selma Bacha and Alice Sombath, are already contracted for the upcoming season. 

Other interested parties could include PSG and Paris FC. However, with comparatively modest budgets of £2.2 million—£3 million, Bronze may be out of their league.

Pastures New: The NWSL 

As a teenager, Bronze played one season on a scholarship with the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. Though she was only a freshman, injuries in the squad saw her feature prominantly. The team went on to win both the ACC Tournament and the NCAA title, with Bronze picking up All-American Honours for her contributions. She has never played professionally in the States.

However, the National Women’s Soccer League has become an attractive place to play, with record levels of investment and media coverage driving growth. Moreover, prior to signing with Barcelona, it was widely reported that Bronze was weighing up a move to the NWSL with a preference for the west coast. 

Kansas City reportedly hold the discovery rights to the Northumberland native. That means that if she were looking for a transatlantic move, she’d have to sign with the Current or else have another club buy the rights before putting pen to paper.

The NWSL’s summer season and complex salary cap rules make it tricky to predict what each club will be looking for. However, there are four which might be a good match.

Angel City

Embed from Getty Images

Finishing fifth in their second season is impressive, but becoming the most valuable team in the league is even more so. City have shown marked improvement under coach Becki Tweed, playing a possession-based game with four in the backline.

However, it’s the club’s culture which truly sets it apart. With a community focus, female-dominated leadership and initiatives to ensure fair compensation, the Los Angeles side has revolutionised the American game and made itself an attractive prospect for international players.  

OL Reign

Embed from Getty Images

The Seattle-based side finished 4th last season. While Reign have won the league three times, the Championship continues to evade them. In November, they finished runners-up in the NWSL Championship after falling 2-1 to Gotham.

Coach Laura Harvey relies on a defensive style of play. The side often use a 4-3-2-1 structure which allows for the kind of flexibility on the wings where Bronze could shine.

That said, the upcoming season will see the Reign undergo major change. The retirement of Megan Rapinoe and the departure of US internationals Rose Lavelle and Emily Sonnett leave significant gaps in the squad.

Portland Thorns

Embed from Getty Images

Thorns may have finished second in the league, but they had the best attacking statistics. On the other hand, their defence had a less convincing season with blunders costing crucial points.

Nevertheless, the three-time league winners have a star-studded team, including the world’s all-time leading goalscorer in Canadian Christine Sinclair. If Bronze was looking for a club with a proven history of challenging for silverware, this could be it. 

San Diego Wave

Embed from Getty Images

After winning the league last season, San Diego could look to add Bronze to their best-in-show defence. The team is often anchored by American centre-back Naomi Girma, who is contracted to the club until 2026. The side also boast the largest average attendance in the league.

However, it’s manager Casey Stoney who may be the real draw for Bronze. The two played together for England before Stoney’s retirement in 2018.

MORE from Her Football Hub: