Chelsea have announced that women’s team manager Emma Hayes will leave the club at the conclusion of the current campaign, with rumors linking her to the USWNT post.

The Blues also hinted that the highly-rated coach is set to continue her career outside of England.

In a statement, the club claimed that Hayes will “pursue a new opportunity” away from the Women’s Super League and club football.

“Emma has been one of the biggest drivers of change in women’s football,” stated Chelsea co-sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley. “Her achievements at Chelsea are unrivaled and will live in the club’s history forever.

“Given everything she has contributed to Chelsea in over a decade with the club, and the legacy she leaves behind, we would never stand in her way when she felt it was the right time to pursue a new challenge. We are pleased that she will remain with the club for the remainder of the season to give us the time to identify her successor.”

English coach a clear frontrunner for USWNT job

Hayes has been linked with the United States women’s national team head coaching position for months now. The team’s previous manager, Vlatko Andonovski, stepped down from the role following a disappointing showing at the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Twila Kilgore has served as the team’s interim head coach since mid-August.

However, Hayes has always been one of the frontrunners for the USWNT position. In fact, commentator and presenter Jacqui Oatley recently predicted that Hayes would leave Chelsea for the American job. Despite being linked with the move, Hayes previously avoided shifting focus to the USWNT. The coach even claimed that she was “very happy at Chelsea” back in August.

Nevertheless, it seems very likely that Hayes will soon become the next manager of the USWNT. Sources have told World Soccer Talk that the coach previously expressed interest in the USWNT job. Hayes, however, wants to finish her job with Chelsea first.

Chelsea has been top women’s team in England thanks to Hayes

Under Hayes, Chelsea has become a dominate force in the Women’s Super League (WSL). In fact, the Blues have won six league titles since 2015. This includes collecting the last four WSL trophies in consecutive seasons. Along with league success, Hayes has also led the team to five women’s FA Cup triumphs and two League Cup titles as well.

While the men’s Chelsea team has struggled in 2023, Hayes has the women’s Chelsea team sitting top of the table. The Blues have won four of their five WSL matches so far this season. This includes a recent 6-0 demolition of Aston Villa on Saturday. The lone draw came against fellow top team Manchester City back in October.

Assuming Hayes finishes out the season in England, the USWNT will have to wait some time before introducing the coach. Chelsea’s WSL season does not end until mid-May. This means that Hayes would miss out on the 2024 CONCACAF W Gold Cup. The newly formed tournament is set to start in February and run until March.

Nevertheless, the 2024 Olympic games are not scheduled to start until July of 2024. This would potentially give Hayes time to get familiar with the American players. The Stars and Stripes will next play China in two separate friendlies scheduled in December.

Photo credits: IMAGO / PA Images : IMAGO / AAP