LAUREN JAMES sealed a fairytale return to WSL champions Chelsea having played for the club’s Under-10s and Under-14s sides during her childhood.
The ex-Man United starlet, who is the sister of the Blues Prem full-back Reece James, confirmed her move following weeks of speculation.
And the move will see the siblings become the only brother and sister duo to play for Chelsea next season.
James, 19, who made her senior professional debut at Arsenal at 16, has agreed to a four-year deal with Emma Hayes’ side.
And her switch to Kingsmeadow comes on a day that saw Chelsea veteran Hannah Blundell unveiled as Manchester United Women’s newest summer signing.
The Sussex-born left-back, 27, has switched to the Red Devils on a two-year deal with an option to extend for a further year.
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On her Chelsea move, London-born James said: “It’s a great feeling to come back home, to a great club, the club I started at the age of six.
“To be able to play for the first team now and come back here to Emma and the rest of the group is a good feeling.
“I’m excited to get started and I can’t wait to meet all the fans at Kingsmeadow when the new season kicks in.’
Blues boss Emma Hayes added: “Lauren is an exciting, young talent who we have admired for a while.
“When the opportunity came up to sign her, we felt now was the right time to bring her back to the club.
“We’re excited to see how she develops in the coming years and look forward to welcoming her to pre-season training.”
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James, touted as a player to watch by Uefa, netted 22 goals in 45 appearances across all competitions during her three-season United spell from 2018 to 2021.
Her strikes include the first-ever goal scored for the Red Devils in Women’s Super League during their first season in the top-flight.
The forward, whose brother won a Champions League trophy with Chelsea’s men’s side last term, received her first senior call-up to an England camp in November 2020.
However, the club was narrowly pipped to a qualifying spot by Arsenal last season.
The unveiling of James as Chelsea’s latest signing comes on the same day as the announcement of next term’s WSL fixtures.
The striker is set to wear the club’s number 19 shirt.
And the Blues face a tantalising season-opening London derby clash with Arsenal with the match taking place from September 3 to September 5.
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