Mjelde joins Chelsea

The Norwegian midfielder leaves Avaldnes IL for a future with the English football club

Photo: Anders Henrikson / Wikimedia
Maren Mjelde in 2014.

Molly Jones
The Norwegian American

Starting the New Year off with a bang, Norway’s captain and central midfielder Maren Mjelde officially became one of the Chelsea Ladies on January 1.

With 107 international caps and 16 international goals for Norway under her belt—not to mention a spot on the UEFA Squad of the Tournament at Euro 2013—the 27-year-old is one of the top-rated female soccer players internationally.

The Arna-native started her career with Arna-Bjørnar back in 2005, making her senior debut at only 15. After several years with her home team, Mjelde signed with German club Turbine Potsdam for the 2013-14 season, where she helped the team reach the Champions League semifinals and became the first non-German to be named the captain of a German women’s club. She then played for Swedish club Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC briefly before returning to Norway in 2015 to join Karmøy team Avaldnes IL.

With Avaldnes, the midfielder helped the team to a second-place finish in 2016 Toppserien behind Lillestrøm. At the end of the season, however, it was clear that Mjelde was not going to stay with the Norwegian club but was seeking new challenges internationally.

On November 22, Chelsea Ladies announced that they had signed Mjelde for a deal extending through 2018. Mjelde is joining the English club following an impressive second-place finish in the 2016 FA Women’s Super League.

“To sign Maren is a real statement of intent from the club,” said team manager Emma Hayes to the club’s website. “We have been looking for a player that brings leadership and experience to the group and she fits the bill perfectly… She has been an outstanding player for Norway for many years and she is at the right age and with the right ambition to help us compete for honors on all fronts.”

Mjelde shares her new manager’s enthusiasm for her future with Chelsea: “The project that the club and Emma are working on is hugely exciting, and I look forward to meeting my new teammates and enjoying success here. This is an important stage of my career, and I needed a new challenge after a successful season in Norway. I want to win trophies and improve as a player and believe I can do that at Chelsea,” said Mjelde.

The Norwegian admits that she also had opportunities to compete in Germany but that she couldn’t give up the chance to live in London and play for Chelsea, especially after visiting and appreciating how much support the club has for the women’s team. Mjelde also believes that the English league will soon catch up to the level of play of the top clubs in Europe.

And this season, in the hopes of improving their chances against other European clubs, the Women’s Super League is making the switch from a summer league to a traditional schedule—from September to May—that lines up with most other European divisions. This means that Mjelde will have a slow start with Chelsea, giving her plenty of time to adjust, as they compete in a short spring series from February to June in preparation for this transition.

“At times we’ve lacked experience in the middle of the park and she’ll help our younger players. Importantly she’s got the right character that we look for in players to play for the club. She’s got the whole package—we’re lucky to get a player of this quality,” adds Hayes.
If all goes as expected, Maren Mjelde could be the key to success for the Chelsea Ladies.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 13, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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