Ellie Carpenter's Lyon rival, Lucy Bronze, has confirmed in interviews that she will soon depart the club where she has enjoyed enormous success.
She leaves big shoes to fill as UEFA’s reigning player of the year and a star player in three consecutive Champions League triumphs. When Ellie Carpenter, the young Matilda, signed for the French side she undertook a remarkable challenge, to represent the biggest club and to potentially replace one of the very best players in the world. However, those who have followed Carpenters career should be confident that she is up to the task.
Olympique Lyonnais is regarded as the pinnacle of women’s club football that has enjoyed unprecedented and repeated success. "The standard across Europe is set by Lyon," Bronze told The Guardian in 2019. “At the start it was very hard and for the first month I couldn’t get near the ball at training”
Lyon has a history of attracting top talent with their high wages, a policy of treating the men and women’s team equally and sharing coaching resources. Securing Carpenter is in keeping with this tradition and she joins a young brigade including, the 19 year old France defender Selma Bacha, and England star Nikita Parris.
Carpenter and Bronze are similar players at different stages of their careers. Both are fast, composed defenders and comfortable in taking possession from an opponent. They enjoy carrying the ball from defense and are composed and dangerous in the attack, neither player will shy from physical confrontation and they are confident in their ability to race back to defense if possession is lost. However, Carpenter is capable of playing at international level on both flanks although her best performances have come from the right.
Bronze has a slightly better scoring record so far than Carpenter, helped by her ability to strike the ball from distance but Carpenter’s last season with Melbourne City was her first in a truly dominant side and she scored some wonderful goals. Although defenders cannot be judged entirely by their goal scoring, both players are vital to attackers for both club and country and spend as much time in the forward third as they do in defense.
Importantly, when analyzing the players at the same age of 18, Carpenter is ahead, scoring five times over 20 games and starring for Canberra compared to Bronze’s two goals for Everton over the same number of appearances.
Likewise at international level, Carpenter has become a fixture at right back for The Matildas since making her debut at the age of 15, while Bronze had to wait until she was 21 to earn her first England cap. By the time Ellie Carpenter was 20 she had already amassed 42 appearances for the national team, spanning an Asian Cup, an Olympics and an impressive World Cup campaign.
It was during this tournament that comparisons to Bronze began, when The Guardian released its list of 100 top female footballers Carpenter was ranked 88th with Bronze at number 2. However they noted that when viewed alongside the English star and the American Kelley O’Hara, the young Australian displayed; “the kinds of qualities these influential full-backs possess, boldness, athleticism and a natural instinct to go forward.”
Bronze will undoubtedly make a difference at her next club, however her leaving a space at Lyon means Australian fans can be excited that one of our brightest talents has been effectively declared the heir to one of the sport's in-form players. Carpenter has been one to watch for five years now, evidently the right people were watching.