Transfer Talk: Man Utd braced for Earps battle in final week of WSL window
Mary Earps was one of the stars of the Women's World Cup — and now the England goalkeeper looks set to be at the centre of a transfer saga at club level.
Manchester United's stopper earned the Golden Glove for her displays in Australia and New Zealand, saving a penalty in the final as the Lionesses fell agonisingly short against Spain.
Now the 30-year-old is thought to be the subject of interest from Women's Super League rivals Arsenal as she enters the final year of her Red Devils contract.
With the WSL transfer window closing next Thursday, we look at whether Earps will still be United's No1 when the season kicks off.
United will still be reeling from the last star player who ran their contract down amid interest from Arsenal.
Fellow Lioness Alessia Russo moved to North London for free at the start of this summer after her deal with the Red Devils expired.
That was not before a long-winded transfer saga last January which saw the Gunners fail with two world-record bids, with United holding firm as they chased the WSL title and FA Cup.
Russo continued her fine form during the second half of the campaign and they were inches away from both trophies, so there is an argument to suggest missing out on that hefty transfer fee to keep such a key attacking player was worth it.
But whether they feel rejecting another huge bid — reported to be a world-record sum for a goalkeeper — is another matter.
There is no question United have one of the biggest talents in world football on their hands, which can be unusual for a goalkeeper.
Earps is a European champion and Ballon d'Or nominee, while her foul-mouthed scream after saving Jenni Hermoso's penalty in the final was one of the World Cup's iconic moments.
Boss Marc Skinner would surely want to keep a player of that importance in his squad, yet her contract was due to expire at the end of June before an automatic one-year extension was triggered.
The failure to agree a new deal could well point to a desire for the Nottingham-born custodian to follow Russo to the capital.
Not short of competition
That is not to say Earps would be an automatic starter if she did make the switch to Arsenal.
Jonas Eidevall has two strong stoppers to choose from in Manuela Zinsberger — second only to Earps in the WSL Golden Glove race last season — and Canada international Sabrina D'Angelo.
As a result, there is not the same level of desperation this summer as there was to get Russo through the door.
Earps will back herself to wrestle the No1 jersey off any competitor but whatever happens, the next week is sure to be dramatic.
Remaining at United would mean guaranteed first-team football and she would be free to agree a move to another club from January 1 but it could leave her vulnerable should injury strike or her form drop.
If an offer does come in before the deadline, United will have to toy up whether to miss out on a huge sum of money once again or lose their second star player in one summer.