Fran Kirby: Chelsea Ladies sign England striker from Reading

Chelsea Ladies have signed England striker Fran Kirby for what former club Reading FC Women say is a British record transfer fee.

The 22-year-old scored England's first goal at the Women's World Cup, in a 2-1 win over Mexico, and the Lionesses went on to finish third in Canada.

She has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with Emma Hayes' side, who are top of Women's Super League 1.

Kirby was the top goalscorer in WSL 2 last season, netting 24 league goals.

Manchester City and Arsenal also made bids for Kirby, whose transfer fee has not been disclosed.

"Chelsea is one of the best clubs in the world and now is a really good time for me to step up in my career," Kirby told the club website.external-link

"It's pretty incredible for me. The last couple of months have been a bit of a whirlwind and moving here is the cherry on top."

Dubbed 'mini-Messi' by England coach Mark Sampson during the Women's World Cup, Kirby was under contract at Reading until 2018.

She scored 11 goals in five league appearances for Reading this year and has netted three times in 13 appearances for England.

A statement on Reading's website said:external-link "For a player to have come through our youth system and move for a British record is testament to Fran, and all of the players and coaches she has worked with here."

"Our team are currently top of WSL2, having ended last season very strongly in our first year at that level, and Fran's record move is potentially another important step in the club's progression."

Reading restart their league campaign at home to Durham Women on Saturday, while Chelsea host Bristol Academy in the top flight on Sunday.

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