Racheal Kundananji is world’s most expensive female footballer

On February 13, 2024, Bay FC, the recently established NWSL team, disclosed the signing of Racheal Kundananji for a fee of $787,800 (735.000 euros) (plus $75,000 possible add-ons) making her the highest-priced female soccer player.

The 23-year-old Zambian international departs from Madrid CFF, the club she joined in 2022 from Eibar, to join the ranks of Deyna Castellanos (Venezuela), Jen Beattie (Scotland), and Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria) in the Bay area.

A short while back, Chelsea FC revealed the acquisition of Mayra Ramirez from Levante, with a reported transfer fee reaching up to $535, 772.50 (500,000 euros), thereby making her the most expensive female soccer player.

Normally, one would anticipate Ramirez holding onto this title for a few seasons, or at the very least until the approaching 2024 summer transfer window. However, the growth of women’s soccer is rapidly accelerating, and fortunately, so is the value of its players.

Kundananji’s rise to the top: slowly but steadily

After an outstanding season with Madrid CFF during which she scored 25 goals in just 29 league games, Kundananji garnered widespread attention and introduced herself as one of the game’s most promising prospects. However, Kundananji’s rise to the world stage of women’s soccer didn’t come overnight.

Having shone in Zambia’s domestic league as a teenager, she caught the eye of Kazakhstani club BIIK Kazygurt during a national team camp and was soon on her way to Europe.

Alongside winning three domestic league titles with Michelle Alozies former team, BIIK Kazygurt (2019, 2020, 2021), the Copper Queen had a taste of the UEFA Women’s Champions League, scoring 4 goals in 11 appearances with Kazygurt.

Racheal Kundananji in action for Madrid CFF
Kundananji scored eight goals in 14 Liga F appearances for Madrid CFF this season

Her performances on the European stage were noticed by Spanish side Eibar who didn’t hold back and signed her. Kundananji was now playing in one of Europe’s biggest leagues. The season was complicated as Eibar struggled to stay in the first division, but her 8 goals in 21 appearances were enough to convince Madrid CFF to sign her in the summer of 2022.

In her first season under Madrid CFF’s colors, the Zambian star netted 25 times in 29 Liga F outings. Only Alba Redondo, Levante’s Spanish international, bettered those numbers, scoring 27 to win the Golden Boot.

Starring at the global stage

Kundananji’s 2022-23 season was one she would never forget. However, one last item had to be ticked off her bucket list. A World Cup appearance.

And on July 22, she made it happen as she featured in Zambia’s starting 11 to face 2011 World Cup winners, Japan.

In matchday 2, Zambia, led by Barbara Banda, the Tokyo 2020 wonder, faced the eventual Champions Spain, before finishing their inaugural World Cup participation with a win against Costa Rica, in which Kundananji scored.

Since her first international appearance in 2017, the new Bay FC superstar has represented The Copper Queens on 19 occasions and netted the ball home 10 times.

NWSL fans saw this transfer coming

Following in the footsteps of Zambian teammate Barbra Banda, as well as Paris Saint-Germain’s hotshot striker Tabitha Chawinga and Bay FC’s very own Asisat Oshoala, Kundananji has rapidly proved herself as one of the most exciting forwards on the planet after starring for club and country.

Anticipating the rising stardom of Kundananji in soccer, many expected lucrative offers to come her way.

In January 2024, reports surfaced that Madrid CFF rejected an offer of 400,000 euros from an NWSL team in their bid to retain her services.

Tied to the Spanish capital’s club until 2026 with a release clause of 700,000 euros, Bay FC was aware that securing Kundananji’s move to the United States would require a substantial financial commitment.

The task of generating excitement fell to 8-time NBA All-Star Steve Nash, who featured in a video uploaded by Bay FC, announcing the arrival of another “stellar baller” to California.

Several hours later, the official announcement came to light. Bay FC completed the signing of Racheal Kundananji, the world’s most expensive player.

“We are delighted to add Racheal to our group,” said Bay FC General Manager Lucy Rushton. “She is a tremendous talent with dynamic attacking qualities and an incredible physical profile who has produced for both club and country.”

“Racheal has a composure in-front of goal and a natural ability to score with different types of finishes and from various locations. We believe she will continue to grow and develop at our club, showcasing her skillset and adding to the array of exciting attacking talent we have here.”

As the team’s identity takes shape, what should we anticipate from Bay FC this season? Do they possess the capabilities to secure a spot in the playoffs and, perhaps, contend for the NWSL championship?

One certainty is that they can now count on Racheal Kundananji.

Source: Forbes

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