Eniola Aluko has signed a new contract for Chelsea Ladies, a boost for the team ahead of the important FA Women’s Super League match away against Manchester City this weekend.
The Blues No.9, who first played for the club between 2007 and 2008 and rejoined in 2012, has scored 57 goals in 125 appearances across her two spells, and was an important part of the squad which won the historic league and cup double last year.
Aluko confirms it was a simple decision to extend her stay at a club, who will book a third consecutive season in the Champions League by taking one point from our final three matches.
‘I've been here four years and within that time I have progressed as a person and as a player,’ she says.
‘I've won trophies, which is why I came back to Chelsea. When Emma Hayes became the manager, I really believed this was a team that would be successful. And we have been.
‘I'm continuing to learn, to grow, and I continue to be challenged every day. The coaching staff are very intelligent people who I respect.
‘I love this team. The players are people I like spending time with. That combination of reasons made it an easy decision.
‘I also feel I'm still contributing to this team and playing well. I'm glad I'm in a position to extend my contract because you've got to perform as well.
‘I'm sure the coaching staff are happy for me to stay as well because I'm still contributing.’
That is certainly the case, with manager Hayes keen to stress the importance of retaining a player who has been a major part of the club’s rise from also-rans to perennial trophy contenders.
‘I'm delighted,’ says Hayes. ‘She has proved to be not only a Chelsea girl in her heart, but someone who has adapted and evolved during my tenure.
‘She's a great team player who does everything that is asked of her and more – her commitment levels have deservedly seen her rewarded with a new contract.
‘She's a competitor, a serial winner and someone who wants to continue winning year after year. She's the calibre of player we want at this club.’
Aluko hopes to celebrate her new contract by helping Chelsea Ladies maintain their grip on the FA Women’s Super League title.
The game away to face Manchester City on Sunday, which is live on BT Sport, could decide the fate of the WSL trophy as if Chelsea come away with anything less than a victory, City will be crowned champions for the first time.
‘It can hardly get any bigger,’ says Aluko. ‘It feels like déjà vu. We went up to Manchester two years ago for an all or nothing game in the league and it's the same again now.
‘It's nice to be in a position where we have no choice but to go for it – we've got nothing to lose.
‘They're in a tricky position because they only need a draw. They may change their tactics.
‘But I anticipate Man City going for the win, going for glory in front of their own fans, so that is going to make for a very open and entertaining game.
‘I can't put into words how much I want us to maintain our grip on that WSL trophy. There is no extra motivation needed.
‘If you've seen our training sessions this week, the tackles have been flying in and players have been getting annoyed – we've got to have the bit between our teeth this weekend.
‘There's no love lost between the two teams and whoever is best on the day will come away with the win.’
- Man City Women v Chelsea Ladies kicks off at 2pm on Sunday. Click for details of tickets and subsidised travel.