The Women’s Super League is packed full of young talent. Here are five of the WSL’s brightest rising stars.
From learning off a former England coach to attracting transfer fees and facing off against the world’s best, these teenagers are taking big steps in their careers.
Some are already established, some are flying through the ranks and others are just breaking through.
Maya Le Tissier (Brighton)
In former England coach Hope Powell, 19-year-old defender Maya Le Tissier has one of the game’s most experienced figures as her mentor.
She joined Brighton’s academy at the age of 16 and extended her professional contract with the club in September, having made more than 30 WSL appearances.
“She’s a football nutcase!” said Brighton boss Powell. “She works so hard on every part of her game to be better every day and that shows. She wants to be the best she can possibly be.
“She is a physical specimen – an athlete, technically not bad, strategically learning every day, and she’s always asking questions and always wanting to be better.
“If you’ve got that – those ambitions of being the best – you give yourself half a chance.”
And no, she’s not related to former Southampton great Matt Le Tissier – although her dad used to play with him because both are from Guernsey.
Olivia McLoughlin (Aston Villa)
Aston Villa boast an impressive roster of academy graduates, and Olivia McLoughlin is the latest to come through the ranks and slot into the first team.
The 17-year-old is a “natural central midfielder”, said manager Carla Ward – but her versatility has already proved an asset this season, having started against Arsenal at right-back in the absence of key player Sarah Mayling.
McLoughlin has missed just one game for Villa this season. “She’s a pleasure to work with because she wants to learn, she’s hungry and she uses the experienced players around her,” added Ward.
“For her build at 17, she is so strong on the ball. I think she’ll go so far in the game.”
Ruby Mace (Manchester City)
Ruby Mace has already made a big impression.
The 18-year-old began her career at WSL giants Arsenal, coming on as a substitute against rivals Tottenham for her debut in a 4-0 win in the 2020 FA Cup quarter-final.
She joined Birmingham City last season on a dual registration and played a key role in their survival from relegation – earning her a big summer move to Manchester City, where she signed a three-year deal.
“She’s been great in the way she’s settled in, and it’s helped that she’s had some really great role models around her – particularly in pre-season with Alex Greenwood,” said City boss Gareth Taylor.
“She’s learning so much. She is a player we believe will do really well for us in the future.
“I think she’s capable of playing in various positions, but we are concentrating on her as a centre-back. It’s important [young players] get consistency in a position where we see her showing her best capabilities.”
Asmita Ale (Tottenham)
Another teenager who was in demand this summer was Asmita Ale.
The 19-year-old defender joined Tottenham from Aston Villa, and BBC Sport understands Spurs paid a fee for her.
She has since played in every WSL match under Rehanne Skinner this season, coming up against Arsenal’s Tobin Heath and Manchester City’s Lauren Hemp – two of the WSL’s most threatening wingers.
“Asmita is evolving and understanding the way she needs to develop as a full-back,” said Skinner.
“She’s played against some of the best wingers in the world competing in our league. It’s a real steep learning curve but she’s a resilient character.
“They are players we need to invest time and energy into. It’s my job to improve them and help them to grow and learn from those experiences. I’m committed to doing that. They have loads of potential and it’s important we keep looking at how they can grow for the future.”
Carrie Jones (Manchester United)
Carrie Jones is tipped to become a star.
Described by Manchester United manager Marc Skinner as a “38-year-old woman inside an 18-year-old’s body”, the academy graduate has been named in all of the matchday squads so far this season.
She came on as a substitute in the defeat by Chelsea and the win over Birmingham City, and Skinner said the club has a “really bright star on our hands”.
He added: “Her mentality is so mature. She does things that you would think a seasoned professional would do and I’m talking things like clever movements, and if you say one thing she sticks to it, but adapts it rather than just following your instructions.
“She’s quite a quiet person but when she comes onto the field she is ferocious. She has very Michael Owen-like instincts. She knows how to hunt the ground and where the spaces will be. She’s energetic and knows how to finish.
“There were two players I instantly liked when I walked in, and that was Tara [Bourne] and obviously Carrie.”