‘My transfer might be the start of something’ – Chelsea's Pernille Harder on her incredible 2020
With no Ballon d’Or this year we are giving out our Star of the Year awards. For the women’s Star of the Year our editors across Europe voted for Chelsea and Denmark forward Pernille Harder. After being told of the decision she chatted to Eurosport UK’s Pete Sharland to talk about her amazing 2020.
Pernille Harder poses for a photo as she signs for Chelsea FC Women at Stamford Bridge on September 01, 2020 in London, England.
Published 14/12/2020 at 16:40 GMT | Updated 16/12/2020 at 16:44 GMT
Transfer fees are difficult things to pin down precisely. Between agent fees, signing-on fees and different contract clauses it can get a little complicated. And even now, the precise world record is unknown.
One thing everyone does know, however, is that Pernille Harder is the most expensive female player in the world. And it is a transfer that, according to Harder herself, could be transformative for the women's game.
Chelsea reportedly paid Wolfsburg around £250,000 to secure the services of the Denmark international at the start of September, the latest superstar to join Emma Hayes’ side.
The figure shows the shameful disparity in prices between male and female footballers but Harder still has the most expensive price tag nevertheless. Unsurprisingly given Harder’s calm demeanour this doesn’t faze her, she prefers to look at it as a rung on the ladder to parity.
“I mean I think it’s a good step,” Harder tells Eurosport from Chelsea’s training ground.
“It’s a new time for women’s football. More transfers will come like this and I think that’s a really good development for women’s football.
“It shows women’s football is also like a business. I see it in that way, my transfer might be the start of something new.”
'A good step for women's football' - Chelsea's Harder on her transfer fee
Harder joined Chelsea after her goals (nine in seven) fired Wolfsburg to the Champions League final where they lost to the game’s best team, Lyon. She was unstoppable in the Bundesliga, scoring 27 goals in 21 games as her team won the title in June, eight points ahead of Bayern Munich.
Harder tells Eurosport she was very pleased with her performances across the year but that Chelsea and the Women’s Super League is a step up.
Pernille Harder of Chelsea in action during a Chelsea FC Women's Training Session at Chelsea Training Ground on November 17, 2020 in Cobham, England
Image credit: Getty Images
“It’s the level of the games,” Harder says when asked about the differences between the WSL and Bundesliga.
“So far I’ve played against Arsenal, Man City, Man Utd, Everton etc and these games have been on a really high level. The top five and top six in this league are on a really high level and I don’t think you see that in any other leagues.”
Harder’s partner Magdalena Eriksson is the captain of Chelsea, an obvious attraction to her joining, but what were her other reasons for joining the west London side?
“Yeah for sure it was the ambition from the club that I really found good and was in my thoughts when I decided to move here.
“Chelsea as a club want to win all the titles they can win, that includes the Champions League, and then playing in the English League.
“With so many players coming into the league that was also why I really wanted to come to Chelsea.”
Hayes has a dazzling array of talent at her disposal now. To go with Harder her squad also contains Beth England, Ji So-yun, Fran Kirby, Erin Cuthbert and of course, Sam Kerr.
Sam Kerr poses for a photo with Emma Hayes, Manager of Chelsea, and Marina Granovskaia, Director of Chelsea as she signs for Chelsea Women FC at Stamford Bridge on November 13, 2019 in London, England
Image credit: Getty Images
“It’s inspiring,” Harder says when asked about the day-to-day enjoyment of practicing alongside such high-level players.
“You named the top players but there’s also really good players in the squad and I think the training is on a top level and it develops me all the time.
“I think we as a team develop week by week. Of course there’s a lot of new players in the team and we all have to find out how to work together in the best but every week it keeps getting better and it’s promising for the future.”
'Chelsea's ambitions very good' - Harder on why she decided to move to Chelsea
Harder admits that the ambition Chelsea showed going after Kerr, the four-time Australian PFA Women’s Footballer of the Year, first and then herself was an attraction in joining the Blues. The other aim, aside from winning the WSL and Champions League, is to continue her trajectory to becoming the best player in the world.
Since the inception of the Best FIFA Women’s Player award in 2016 and Ballon d’Or Feminin in 2018 no English player or player based in England has won either accolade. In fact of the six podiums between the two awards only once has a player based in England finished in the top three, when Carli Lloyd finished second to Lieke Martens in the 2017 FIFA Best awards.
Pernille Harder of Chelsea during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match between Arsenal Women and Chelsea Women at Meadow Park on November 15, 2020 in Borehamwood, England.
Image credit: Getty Images
There is no Ballon d’Or this year but our journalists across Europe believe that Harder is the best player in the world. Would she give herself that tag?
“I think it’s difficult to say. I’m up there. I wouldn’t say I am the best because I think there are a lot of good players in women’s football at the moment,” Harder says in diplomatic fashion.
“I’m getting there and I will train even harder now to maintain my level and to get even better.”
The obvious next question then is how does she get there, what does she need to do?
“To keep on performing, to find new ways of scoring goals, to be even more complete.” Harder says.
“I think it’s about doing everything I do but doing it at a higher level. My first goal now is to get 100% into the team and to perform on a high level in this club and in the English league. My goal is always to develop everything.”
'I'm up there' - Harder on whether she's the best player in the world
Harder is certainly a driven individual, and she grins when it’s brought to her attention to that her and her partner could create a unique piece of history. Both Harder’s Denmark and Eriksson’s Sweden have qualified for the European Championship in 2022. So what happens if they were to reach in the final.
“Then hopefully Denmark will win!” Harder replies, laughing.
“That would be a dream I think. Playing a final in the Euros against your partner. Then at least one of us would be happy after the game!”