Matildas forward Emily Gielnik has signed for Bayern Munich in the Frauen Bundesliga. But there’s a little more to this news story than just a catchy headline...
The 31 cap Matilda had an excellent 2018/19 season for Melbourne Victory and the national team, breaking into Ante Milicic’s side and becoming a regular in her strongest campaign to date.
The muscular, imposing forward has an intimidating presence and powerful long shot, and will reportedly wear the number 15 shirt for her new club.
While Bayern are yet to truly replicate their male side’s success in the women’s game, they are Champions League semi finalists and Frauen Bundesliga heavyweights, which puts Gielnik among the Matildas best situated in foreign competition.
"I'm excited. It is the dream of every footballer to play for a top club like Bayern Munich. As a striker, I now want to score as many goals as I can for my new club," she told the Bayern Munich website.
"I want to win the Bundesliga and the Champions League with this great team. These are big goals, I know, but that's exactly what I'm going to fight for and give everything."
Gielnik’s decision comes at an interesting time for the Matildas as there’s an emerging amount of Australians choosing Europe - and Champions League tilts - over the more common path to the USA with the NWSL.
While the US is still the major destination, highlighted by the success of Hayley Raso and Samantha Kerr this season, recent rumours that Kerr may sign a European contract with Chelsea have further highlighted the growing importance of European competition to the women’s game.
Gielnik and Alex Chidiac remains the two highest profile of a relatively small European contingent, while other elements of the squad like Tameka Yallop are having success in the more traditional Scandinavian leagues.
But should Kerr make the jump to Europe, Gielnik May have pre-emoted a growing shift in focus for the Matildas. This may have a positive effect, as Gielnik - a player noted primarily for her power - is now moving to a more technical league than the NWSL.
The Matildas recent World Cup campaign, in particular the loss to Italy, highlighted that while Australia have impressive physical attributes, compared to European sides, we are still considered a tactical and technical minnow - at least in some respects.
Could a growing shift towards Europe change this? We may be about to find out.