Chelsea Women have landed 18-year-old Japanese forward Maika Hamano, with the highly rated teenager heading to Swedish side Hammarby IF on loan ahead of their 2023 campaign.

Hamano, who represents her native Japan, joins the club from INAC Kobe Leonessa of the WE League in her home country, and has signed a contract with the Blues which runs until the summer of 2027.

Looking ahead to her time at Chelsea, Hamano said: ‘I am really proud to sign for a club which in my opinion is number one in the world.’

Manager Emma Hayes commented: ‘Maika is a fantastic talent, she is a Golden Ball and Silver Boot winner having shone at the Under-20 World Cup last year. We are really looking forward to seeing how Maika develops during her time out on loan with Hammarby IF in Sweden.’

This season, the teenager has made seven appearances for the defending Japanese champions across league and cup competition. She netted two goals and added one assist to her tally before agreeing her move to Chelsea.

At international level, Hamano helped Japan to a second-place finish at the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica last August, managing four goals and one assist in six appearances. She was awarded the Golden Ball which recognises the best player in the tournament, and the Silver Boot which is given to the second-highest goalscorer.

Her impressive form at last summer’s Under-20 World Cup was duly rewarded when Hamano was handed her senior debut for the Japan national team. She came off the bench to feature in a 2-0 friendly victory over Nigeria last October.

Everyone at Chelsea warmly welcomes Maika to the club, and we look forward to the years ahead.