Lauren James became Emma Hayes’s latest recruit to the Chelsea Women squad after it was announced earlier today that the young forward has joined from Manchester United on a four-year deal.
The 19-year-old will begin pre-season training with her new team-mates this week and James has spoken about the prospect of working under manager Hayes, what she hopes to achieve with Chelsea and how it feels to be back home with her older brother, Reece.
What does it mean to you to be here?
It’s a great feeling to come back home, to a great club, the club I started at the age of six. To be able to play for the first team now and come back here to Emma and the rest of the group is a great feeling.
What does the prospect of working with Emma Hayes mean to you?
She’s a great manager. She’s done it for a long time, won many trophies with this group and many other different players. I’m really looking forward to pushing on with her.
It’s almost a full circle for you, coming back here after being here at a young age?
I started here at the age of six and I went on to join other teams. I’m delighted to be back. Sometimes you need to go away, to come back.
How do you think you have developed in recent years?
Physically I’ve come on a lot. The last time Emma saw me, I was in the Under-12s and I was a very little, slight girl. I’ve come on in that side, and with skills too, I feel I’ve come on a lot.
How strong do you feel the WSL is at the moment?
Every year it is getting stronger. The transfers to the top teams, players moving all over and I think this year will be very interesting.
How strong do you think this current group are?
The bench is just as strong as the starting 11. When I’ve come and played here against Chelsea, you couldn’t write it off. You don’t know who is going to play, and whoever plays, you know they are all good.
Do you need that competition throughout as an elite player?
The strength in depth within the team is always good to have because there are always a lot of games, a lot of competitions and it also makes you a better player with the more competition for places.
What does it mean to be joining a club that has reached the Champions League final with both the women’s and men’s teams?
It’s great. The club have great ambitions, they always want to win trophies, it’s part of the DNA here. I’m looking forward to joining and hopefully we can get the Champions League this year.
How exciting is it for you and your brother to be both here at Chelsea?
It’s great. We are close so to share the journey at the same club is a good feeling.
What do you want to achieve during your time with Chelsea?
I want to develop, become a better player and better person, on and off the field. I want to win trophies and hopefully contribute to the team and the club.
How exciting is it going to be to play in front of a full house at Kingmseadow?
I’m looking forward to it, to see the fans, to meet them and to get the season going.