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Sunday, July 21, 2024

Former Chelsea midfielder Jessie Fleming sees opportunity for ‘more consistent role’ with Thorns

On Wednesday, Portland Thorns FC announced the signing of Canadian international Jessie Fleming from Chelsea through 2026, pending the receipt of her visa and International Transfer Certificate. The Thorns did not disclose the value of the transfer fee, but it is reported to be $320,000 (£250,000) according to the Telegraph.

Fleming signed with Chelsea in 2020, following the conclusion of her NCAA career with UCLA, and was a key part of their title campaign during the 2021-2022 season, though has struggled to see consistent minutes as of late.

“Adding a player of Jessie’s caliber is a big step for us as we continue to build the roster for 2024 and beyond,” Thorns head coach Mike Norris said. “Jessie has great ability to connect and create in midfield, which makes her a very dynamic option for us in the middle of the field. Her eye for a final pass will be a great asset for our front line. Add in her physical capabilities to go box-to-box, we feel that we have acquired a very complete world-class midfielder.”

Fleming, 25, was a pivotal player for Canada’s Gold medal run at the Tokyo Olympics. The team is looking to defend their Olympic title this summer in France.

“I’m excited for the city, the fans, definitely excited to catch another year with Sincy,” Fleming told The Athletic, shortly after completing her introductory photo shoot for the announcement. “To be a part of a team that has a really successful history in the NWSL, and there’s a lot of players on the team, especially in the midfield, that I’m super stoked to play with and grow with. And being Canadian, having the opportunity to play a bit closer to Canada and closer to my family is also another massive bonus for me. I’m just ready to get to work.”

Fleming also discussed why the time was right for a move, looking ahead to the Olympics, and what she’s most looking forward to in Portland.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

What about the NWSL and Thorns made you think that this was the right time for a move?

When I look at the different leagues around the world, they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Following the NWSL, just as a fan over the last couple of years, it’s pretty crazy how competitive the league is and the results can go any which way from week to week. That’s something I’m really excited about, just how competitive the league is. There’s so many good players in the league right now, and in Portland as well, that I’m excited to play with and play against.

I love Chelsea, I love my teammates, and I feel like I took so much learning away from that experience. But for me, this felt like a good opportunity at the right time to hopefully play a bigger, more consistent role for a club, and a good step for me to continue to grow my game.

One thing that especially excited me about Portland is the relationship that the club and the players have with the fans and the community. Sometimes, at a big club like Chelsea, it can feel hard to make your mark and influence the community in a positive way. I’m really excited to get involved in the community and the city.

You just got into town, what are you looking forward to in your new home? Are you a coffee person? I feel like it’s a rule in Portland.

I love the coffee culture. I’ve heard it’s a really bike friendly city. And I love my bike. (Fleming said later she owns a single-speed urban bike.) I’ve heard a lot about all the bookstores and I’m definitely a bit of a bookworm. My parents are also pretty avid hikers and love the outdoors, so I’m sure that they’ll be down here and we’ll get to check out some trails nearby. I think the city’s a really good fit for me. I mean, I’ve got a big smile on my face when I’m talking to you about this stuff.

(Photo: Gaspafotos/Getty Images)

Read the full article here

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