Star Sunderland striker Beth Mead joins Arsenal Ladies for undisclosed fee
Star striker Beth Mead has left Sunderland to join Arsenal Ladies for an undisclosed fee.
The departure of the 21-year-old is no shock following the decision by the club to pursue a "part-time model" for their Women's Super League team.
Mead was one of the Lady Black Cats full-time professionals, having signed a three-season contract last summer.
But once the club shifted their emphasis and reduced their ambitions in the female game there was no doubt she would move on.
Sunderland Ladies head coach, Carlton Fairweather, told the club's website: “Naturally we are disappointed that Beth has chosen to move on, but we wish her all the best with her new challenge.”
The Echo understands almost all of the WSL1 clubs, bar promoted duo Bristol and Yeovil, and Notts County, had expressed an interest in the Yokshire-born girl.
However, Mead has plumped for the Gunners who finished third in the 2016 WSL1 season behind Man City and Chelsea.
Mead took WSL1 by storm in 2015 scoring 14 goals as Sunderland challenged for the title in their first season in the top echelon before ending fourth.
Her record was not as impressive last season as Sunderland struggled to hit the heights of their debut WSL1 campaign but she still ended as top scorer with six.
During her time with the Lady Black Cats Beth won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award, FAWSL 1 Players’ Player of the Year and Vauxhall’s Young England Player of the Year.
Her exit after six years at the club comes hot on the heels of the departure of another long-serving star, midfielder Rachel Furness, to league rivals Reading.
More undoubtedly will follow in the coming weeks ahead of the start of the WSL Spring Series
The new one-off competition has been created to bridge the gap between seasons, while the WSL transitions from a summer league to a winter calendar.
Sunderland face a trip to Birmingham for their opener on April 23.