Chelsea Football Club Women are delighted to confirm the signing of Danish attacking player Pernille Harder on a three-year deal.
The 27-year-old joins us from German side Wolfsburg ahead of our 2020/21 Barclays FA Women’s Super League season which begins away to Manchester United on Sunday.
Harder has spent the past three-and-a-half years playing for Wolfsburg and it was there she established herself as one of Europe’s top footballers. She was named UEFA Player of the Year in 2018.
Indeed, it was a trophy-laden stint with the leading club in the Frauen Bundesliga, as Harder won the domestic Double in each of her four campaigns at the AOK Stadion, twice finishing as the top scorer in the German top flight. Her tally of 27 in the coronavirus-affected 2019/20 season was the highest by any player in the Frauen Bundesliga since 2010.
While there is so much more to her game than goals, as evidenced by her ability to play in any position across the front of the pitch or in an attacking-midfield role, Harder boasts a scoring record at the top level of European football that would be the envy of any striker.
At Wolfsburg she found the net 103 times in 113 matches, having previously scored 85 goals in 109 appearances for Linkopings in Sweden, while she averaged better than a goal a game at Skovbakken in her homeland. Add in 25 Champions League goals from 28 games and it is clear Emma Hayes has added another lethal finisher to her already prolific attacking options.
On signing for Chelsea, Harder said: ‘I’m extremely happy and extremely excited to get started, to finally be here and be a Chelsea player. I couldn’t be more happy.
'I’m excited to just play for such a big club, to play with so many amazing players and to also be playing in the league [Women’s Super League]. The English league, it’s so exciting at the moment and I’m really looking forward to it.'
Chelsea FC Women manager Emma Hayes added: ‘Pernille is one of the best players in the world. Her record at Wolfsburg and Linkopings, as well as internationally with Denmark, shows how valuable she has been to her teams.
‘She is a fantastic team player who wants to take her game to the next level. She chose Chelsea as the club that can push her to that level. She can play for any team in the world, but she chose us.
‘She chose the players, the staff, the environment, the playing style. You can’t get a bigger compliment than that from one of the best players in the world.’
Pernille Harder’s record at club level
Harder’s football journey began at the young age of five at local club Tulstrup and then she moved to Ikast kfum. From there she progressed to Viborg, where she made her debut in the 3F ligaen, at the age of 16 – which is the top division of women’s football in Denmark – and then on to Skovbakken in 2010. Alongside Skovbakken, she trained with the boy's academy of Midtjylland, her local professional team.
Following a move to Linkopings in Sweden, Harder began to show why she is rated so highly in her homeland. During four years with the club she helped them win back-to-back Swedish Cups, playing in the same team as Magdalena Eriksson, who of course is now Chelsea Women captain – and the duo were key players as Linkopings were crowned Damallsvenskan champions in 2016. Harder finished as the division’s top scorer with 23 goals.
Before long, she was making the step up to the upper echelons of European football by linking up with two-time Champions League winners Wolfsburg, who had won their first continental honour at Stamford Bridge in 2013. The league titles continued to come – four in as many years – and each was accompanied by a German Cup in the same season.
European glory eluded Harder, though, as her spell at the club coincided with Lyon’s dominance of the Champions League. Although she netted the opener against the French side in the 2018 final, they fought back to win 4-1. The personal glory of winning the UEFA Player of the Year award, 12 months on from finishing as runner-up for that prize, was no consolation for a footballer who puts the needs of the team ahead of her own.
Harder was the Champions League’s top scorer last year, despite Wolfsburg exiting at the quarter-final stage, and she flourished in her side’s run to the final once again this past season, including a four-goal haul in the 9-1 win over Glasgow City in the last eight. Her final game for Wolfsburg resulted in a 3-1 defeat as Lyon clinched the Champions League trophy for a fifth consecutive season on Sunday evening.
Pernille Harder’s international record
At international level, Harder debuted for Denmark in October 2009 at the age of 16, marking her first senior appearance for her country with a hat-trick against Georgia. The goals have come thick and fast ever since, as she has netted 61 times in 118 matches.
She also captains her country, having taken the armband on in 2016 – and the following year she was the spearhead of Denmark’s run to the final of the European Championship. Although she scored in that game against the Netherlands, Denmark succumbed to a 4-2 defeat against the host nation.
Harder is undoubtedly the leading light when it comes to women’s football in Denmark, as she has been named as her country’s Player of the Year on six occasions, including in each of the past five years.
Welcome to Chelsea, Pernille!
There will be more from Pernille Harder on this website later today.