Fran Kirby: Chelsea leading chase for England's 'mini-Messi'

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Fran Kirby
Kirby's World Cup goal was her third in 13 England appearances, having made her debut in August 2014

Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal have all shown an interest in signing Reading and England forward Fran Kirby.

Kirby, 22, scored England's first goal of the Women's World Cup in the 2-1 win over Mexico as the Lionesses went on to finish third overall.

Chelsea have made a bid for the only player in England's squad to currently play in Women's Super League 2.

City and Arsenal are also interested with the transfer deadline falling on Thursday.

It is understood that Kirby, who is contracted with Reading until 2018, could attract a record transfer fee of between £40,000 and £60,000.

After scoring in her first World Cup start, head coach Mark Sampson dubbed her 'mini Messi' after the Barcelona and Argentina star.

When the forward was 14, her mother - who had been a driving force in the early stages of her career - died after a brain haemorrhage. Three years later and struggling to come to terms with the loss, Kirby gave up on football.

But she made a tentative Sunday League comeback with Reading Town Ladies two years ago before going back to the club where she had been since she was a child - Reading FC.

The diminutive forward was Reading's top scorer in WSL 2 last season and is leading the way again this term.

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