Anita Asante has left Chelsea FC Women following the conclusion of her contract.

The defensive midfielder returned to Chelsea in January 2018 from Swedish side Rosengard almost a decade after her previous spell with the Blues. She leaves Emma Hayes’ squad after two-and-a-half years in which she has made 35 appearances, 34 of them starts.The 35-year-old brought a wealth of experience to Chelsea upon her return having competed in the Champions League, European Championships and World Cup finals, as well as winning a host of major honours.But her time at Chelsea has unfortunately been hindered by injuries. She picked an anterior cruciate ligament injury after just five appearances for the Blues while away with England and was ruled out for the remainder of the 2018/19 campaign. This season she suffered a quadricep tendon tear during our 3-0 Continental League Cup victory against Crystal Palace in October, which ended up being her final Chelsea appearance.Off the field, Asante has been a regular contributor to the work of the Chelsea Foundation and an advocate for all equality work at the club including the Say No To Antisemitism campaign.

Asante began her career with Arsenal while studying politics and English at university, and it was during her successful spell with the Gunners that she first worked with Hayes, who was a member of the club’s coaching staff.

Manager Hayes said: ‘I could spend a lot of time talking about Neetz – how can I say in a few sentences what a person has meant to me over a number of years? All I know is that I’m full of pride about the person she is.‘The contribution she’s made in her playing career to date has been exceptional. She’s always around winning. She holds everybody to the highest standards, but also demonstrates them herself.‘She’s a fabulous team-mate, she’s been a friend and supportive of everything I’ve done. I don’t think it’s the end – Anita Asante and my path will cross a number of times in the future.’Chelsea thanks Anita enormously for her contribution to the club and wishes her well for the next stage of her career.