I’ve never seen a player like Lauren James

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By newsversepro.com

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes declared after seeing Lauren James tear Manchester United apart at Stamford Bridge that she has never seen a player capable of doing the things the 22-year-old can.

James was in Paris at the start of the week, attending The Best FIFA Football Awards 2023, where she was named in the FIFPRO Women’s World 11 alongside many of her England teammates.

The quality that earned a place among that group was evident from the start on Sunday, finding the net twice in the first half against her old club and then sealed the 3-1 win near the end.

Mia Fishel, who has struggled to establish herself since a summer move to Chelsea, starting as the ‘number nine’ in Sam Kerr’s injury absence, with James slightly deeper but later leading the line herself when the American was withdrawn early in the second half.

Chelsea FC  v Manchester United - Barclays Womens Super League

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“I was impressed with her whole performance,” Hayes said of James.

“She carried out the game plan and her role in that to perfection. It changed in the second half with Mia coming out and I think she did that equally as well. She’s shown her qualities as a ‘nine’ or a ‘ten’ and her finishing was second to none. The quality of that, the natural finisher that she is.”

Asked if James, long seen as one of English football’s brightest talents but now firmly coming into her own, had learned a thing or two from Sam Kerr about being a striker, Hayes replied: “I’m sure she has, but I’ve never seen a player like Lauren do the things she does individually.

“If you get tight to her, she’ll roll you, if you drop off her…next time she makes a move you think you’ve got her, she’s so explosive. She’s got a left and a right foot. That’s the thing. Often, you play against players and you know they’ve got strong sides. Lauren can do it on both feet.”

Hayes celebrated her first goal by gesturing to travelling United fans who had been giving her stick as one of their former heroes.

“I think she enjoyed that,” Hayes said. “I don’t mind these things in the women’s game. They want to give her stick, she scores and goes over to that section of the crowd. If you’re going to give someone stick, you’re going to get it in return, right?

“She was just quality. That was Lauren at her best today and she took responsibility in that area of the pitch in the way that the team needed. But I preface that but there were a lot of unbelievable performances, a real team effort, that allowed LJ to thrive.”

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