Big news coming out from the Tottenham Hotspur Women camp today, after the club formally announced the signings of two NWSL players for the first half of the season. Orlando Pride teammates and women’s full internationals Alanna Kennedy and Shelina Zadorsky have both moved to Tottenham on loan through the end of 2020, with an option to make the moves permanent.
✍️ | We are delighted to announce that we have reached agreements for the loan signings of @AlannaKennedy and @Shelina4 from Orlando Pride for the remainder of 2020, with options to make both moves permanent.— Tottenham Hotspur Women (@SpursWomen) August 20, 2020
https://t.co/DYrLbMHBa8#SpurHerOn ⚪️ #COYS pic.twitter.com/5EXYT6Rogq
Kennedy’s loan was previously reported by American journalists closely connected to the Pride and the NWSL. Kennedy is a utility defender/defensive midfielder and a full Australian international who should add some heft to Spurs’ midfield this season.
Zadorsky, however, was a surprise. A Canadian international, she started and played every minute for Orlando as a central defender last season. The Pride’s defense was... not great, giving up a NWSL-worst 53 goals last season in a last-placed finish, but our colleagues at The Mane Land suggested that the defensive problems had a lot more to do with the overall team performance and not specifically with Zadorsky. It appears she had the dubious distinction of being a solid defender on a really bad team.
Interestingly, Kennedy and Zadorsky have a long history together — they were teammates both for Orlando and the Perth Glory in Australia, and now will be teammates again at Tottenham this season. Also interesting is the clause that gives Tottenham an option to make the loan signings permanent at the end of 2020. This appears very much to be a “Break Glass In Case of NWSL Cancellation” option for Kennedy and Zadorsky — while the NWSL is probably a better league there’s enough uncertaintly about the league’s future this season that having an escape hatch to England makes a lot of sense for two full international players who want to make sure they can make the Olympics next summer.
This is a pretty huge development for Tottenham, who are adding some solid international talent to their roster. This is also a continuation of the trend of NWSL players heading to England and elsewhere in order to keep playing football during a global pandemic — USWNT stars Sam Mewis and Rose Lavelle have already signed loan deals at Manchester City for example, and more are likely to follow them to England.
There is certainly an argument that the only thing that’s holding Spurs back from attracting the kind of talent that’s currently heading to the likes of Chelsea, City, United and Arsenal is some token monetary investment from their parent club, but let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth too closely. Spurs are trying to improve from their seventh place table position from last season, and both Zadorsky and Kennedy should help in that regard, even if they don’t stay permanently.
Tottenham Women open the new season September 6 against West Ham at home at the Hive.
Update: There’s been some clarification on the USA reporting side of these transfers. Specifically, the “option to purchase” is more of a technicality than anything else, since both players’ Orlando contracts expire at the end of 2020. So Spurs can technically sign them when their Pride contracts expire from the free trade market, which from a Tottenham perspective is even better (and cheaper). Julia Poe covers the Orlando Pride for the Orlando Sentinel.
Another note — in the club’s announcement for Zadorsky and Kennedy, Tottenham suggest they have an option to buy for both. That's not true. Both players’ contracts with the Pride expire at the end of 2020, meaning they're free to sign anywhere.— Julia Poe (@jpoe24601) August 20, 2020