Chelsea Women are delighted to confirm the signing of young forward Lauren James on a four-year deal.

James was part of the Chelsea Academy from Under-10s to Under-14s and re-joins the club from Manchester United ahead of our 2021/22 Barclays FA Women’s Super League season.

After a stint on the Chelsea books, the forward made her debut for Arsenal aged 16 in October 2017 before signing her first professional contract for Manchester United in July 2018.

James scored 14 goals in 18 league appearances to help United win promotion to the top flight of women’s football and her performances were rewarded with a call-up to the England Under-19 squad for the 2019 UEFA Under-19 Championship.

The 19-year-old made history by scoring Manchester United’s first-ever goal in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and finished as their top scorer in the 2019/20 season with six goals in 12 appearances. She was also shortlisted for the PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year that season.

James, sister of Blues defender Reece James, has represented England at Under-17 and Under-19 level and received her first senior call up as part of a training camp in November 2020.

A technical player who is excellent in using her body to shield the ball, James has the ability to carry the ball past players with ease and she showed those qualities with a goal-of-the-season contender in a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea last season.

On signing for Chelsea, James said: ‘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.

‘I’m excited to get started and I can’t wait to meet all the fans at Kingsmeadow when the new season kicks in.’

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes added: ‘Lauren is an exciting, young talent who we have admired for a while.

‘When the opportunity came up to sign her, we felt now was the right time to bring her back to the club.

‘We’re excited to see how she develops in the coming years and look forward to welcoming her to pre-season training.’