SAN FRANCISCO – Bay FC have signed Zambia forward Racheal Kundananji from Spain’s Madrid CFF, the clubs announced on Feb 13, with the American team paying up to a reported US$860,000 (S$1.2 million) to set a new world record in women’s football.

The 23-year-old, who joined Madrid in 2022 from fellow Spanish top-tier side Eibar, signed a contract through the 2027 season with an extension option for the 2028 campaign, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) club said.

“People in Zambia will be surprised, but they will be so happy. I want to give the (Bay) fans what they want – to enjoy the games, to enjoy seeing me playing and scoring,” Kundananji told BBC Sport Africa.

The San Francisco Bay Area’s new NWSL franchise paid US$785,000 for Kundananji, local media reported, with a possible US$75,000 in add-ons, making her the most expensive female football player ever. She becomes the first African player, male or female, to break a world transfer record.

Kundananji’s deal surpasses the current mark in the women’s game set when Chelsea signed Colombia forward Mayra Ramirez from Levante for €500,000 (S$722, 540) in January.

Kundananji began her career with Zambian side Indeni Roses before moving to BIIK Kazygurt in Kazakhstan in 2019, where she first played in the Women’s Champions League. Two years later, she joined Spanish top-flight side Eibar before her move to Madrid.

She scored 25 goals in 29 league games to help Madrid CFF to a fifth-place finish, the best in their history, last season and has added another eight in 14 league matches this campaign.

Kundananji, who represented Zambia at the 2023 Women’s World Cup and the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, has 10 goals in 18 games for her country.

She joins Nigeria striker Asisat Oshoala and former Arsenal defender Jen Beattie at Bay after both players signed deals with the club earlier in February.

On why she chose Bay, Kundananji told ESPN: “I don’t know how, I just fell in love with the team, and it just came as a surprise… There were so many teams that have come my way, but for this team, it was so different.

“I don’t know about them (other African NWSL players) but, for me, I just want to have a new experience and it’s been my dream to do it in the United States of America. I just fell in love with the team, and I would love to achieve more goals with Bay.”

Bay will face Angel City on March 16 in their first game as an expansion team in the 2024 season. REUTERS

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