Chelsea women seal ‘massive’ deal for Russian international defender
Roman Abramovich will be joined by a fellow Russian at Chelsea next month after the the Blues' female side announced the signing of highly-rated international full-back Alsu Abdullina from Lokomotiv Moscow.
The 20-year-old left-sided defender, who has made 30 appearances for the Russian national side, will join the London club in January after scoring six times in in 46 appearances in the Russian capital since making her debut last year, establishing herself as one of the top young defensive prospects in the women's game in the process.
Abdullina has been a key part of Lokomotiv's recent domestic dominance, helping her team complete a domestic clean sweep of the Russian League, Russian Cup and Super Cup as well as competing in the Champions League, and was recently named in the Russian's Women's league team of the season.
"I am so happy to join Chelsea and can't wait to meet the team and fans in the new year," Abdullina said after inking the two-and-a-half year deal.
"This is a big change in my life, a new challenge. I am very proud to be part of this team, which has so many great players.
"I want to continue to develop as a player and progress in London. I want to help the team to win as many trophies as possible."
Chelsea boss Emma Hayes underlined the importance of agreeing a deal with a talent of the caliber of Abdullina, who provided five goals and five assists in 30 Lokomotiv appearances last season.
BIG NEWS! Russian international left back Alsu Abdullina has signed for Chelsea!Massive for the Russian game. https://t.co/87hAJENO6g— Russian Football News (@RusFootballNews) December 22, 2021
"Alsu is a very good young player who has accumulated a lot of club and national appearances for her age, including winning the league a number of times with Lokomotiv," said Hayes.
"Alsu is a versatile player who can play any position on the left, adding more depth to the squad.
"We look forward to seeing how she develops in our environment over the next couple of years."
Abdullina will wear the number 27 shirt for the Women's Super League champions, with her contract taking her up to the 2024 season as she joins a star-studded squad including the likes of Australia's Sam Kerr, England forward Fran Kirby, South Korea star Ji So-yun and Lauren James, the sister of Chelsea men's standout Reece James.
She becomes the first Russian on Chelsea's book since Yuri Zhirkov and, before him, Alexei Smertin – with the move described by one prominent social media account as "massive for the Russian game".
Abdullina could be in contention to make her debut on January 7, when Chelsea host London rivals Tottenham.