Ebony Salmon has been one of the WSL’s breakout stars over the past couple of seasons, with her goals in a struggling Bristol City side key to keeping the Vixens afloat in the top flight.
The forward signed a new, one-year deal with Bristol in 2020, meaning her current contract with Matt Beard’s side is up in the summer.
There will be no shortage of suitors for the exciting 20-year-old, so let’s take a look at her potential options.
Salmon could very easily sign a new contract at Bristol City and stay put next season. The club have clearly got the best out of her in a short period of time, she is playing week in, week out, scoring for fun and has forced herself into the England squad.
With a home European Championships approaching in 2022, remaining at the club where she is comfortable, has guaranteed regular football and is banging in the goals on a weekly basis, is a good place to be to ensure she stays in international contention.
However, this hinges on whether Bristol can preserve their WSL status. The Vixens are currently in the tightest of relegation battles, and Salmon is too good to be playing second tier football.
Additionally, even if Bristol do stay in the top flight, Salmon will likely find herself in a relegation fight the following season. Such is the gulf in resources now between Bristol and the top sides, survival and a cup run is likely (and sadly) as good as it will get.
Chelsea have one of the best female football setups in the country, and Salmon would have the opportunity to work with one of the game’s all-time greats in Emma Hayes.
While Chelsea have a habit of recruiting world beaters of late (Sam Kerr, Pernille Harder, Melanie Leupolz), Hayes simultaneously builds for the future and nurtures young talent as evidenced by the signings of Jessie Fleming and Niamh Charles, therefore signing Salmon would not be out of character for the Blues.
Given how prolific the youngster has been in a struggling Bristol side, you can only imagine the chances she would get playing alongside some of Chelsea’s terrific creative players, with the likes of Harder, Kerr, Fran Kirby and Ji So-yun laying on opportunities left, right and centre.
Despite their insane squad depth, Hayes will happily trust youngsters with first team football if they’re deemed good enough; Erin Cuthbert has been a regular since the age of 20, and Charles has also seen plenty of game time in 2021.
However, Chelsea’s forward line in particular is ridiculously good. The 2019/20 PFA Player of the Year Beth England has been in and out of this side this year, such is their strength in depth. Salmon would likely have to settle for sporadic game time during her debut season – a downgrade on currently playing 90 minutes every week.
Everton are a club with ambitions, having signed the likes of Izzy Christiansen, Valerie Gauvin, Hayley Raso and Jill Scott in recent transfer windows.
After a fast start, they’ve been inconsistent as hell this season but, as evidenced by their run to the FA Cup final, when things do click, it can be pretty special for Willie Kirk’s side.
Everton could potentially be a happy medium for Salmon – a well run club with ambitions of breaking into the top four, but where she would also have a good shot at seeing a lot of game time, either as a central striker or wide forward.
Chloe Kelly has demonstrated that Everton are an ideal club to go to, play regularly, thrive and earn a move to the WSL’s elite. But should the club continue to recruit well and build steadily, they could one day be considered part of the WSL’s elite once more. Everton and Salmon could grow together.
Arsenal need a deeper squad and the injection of something fresh if they are to recapture their fabulous 2018/19 form and challenge Chelsea and Manchester City once more.
Vivianne Miedema’s contract expires in 2022, and although Joe Montemurro has said that extending their talisman’s stay in north London is a priority, there have been whispers of links to Lyon.
However, Salmon does not need to be brought in as a replacement for Miedema, and could quite easily operate across the Gunners front three. With Arsenal currently in pole position to secure Champions League qualification, there will likely be greater squad rotation, meaning Salmon could see a decent amount of minutes at one of the WSL’s top sides.
Signing Salmon would be very noughties Arsenal – hoovering up one of the top flight’s star players – but a bit out of character with their recent recruitment strategy, where the Gunners have tended to look abroad or re-sign former academy players following stints in the States.
Manchester City have been the queens of nurturing young, English talent since they were handed a WSL license in 2013, and Salmon would be a trademark City signing.
The forward can take heart from the regular minutes Chloe Kelly and Lauren Hemp have been afforded since they joined the club – with the latter signing from Salmon’s current employers Bristol. The pair have also become regulars in the England senior squad following their moves to the Academy Stadium.
Ellen White is currently City’s only recognised senior out and out striker, and although she’s been happily playing and merrily scoring week in week out for the Cityzens this season, a second striking option would be beneficial.
Not only would it be beneficial in case of injury to White, but also because Salmon is a completely different type of striker. Blessed with a similar composure in front of goal to her England teammate but renowned for her searing pace in behind, the 20-year-old could offer Gareth Taylor’s side another dimension.
And City create so many chances. Salmon would have a field day latching onto Caroline Weir passes and Hemp and Kelly crosses. A Hemp-Salmon-Kelly combination could be a frightening City and England front three for the next decade.