England defender Esme Morgan has committed to a four-year contract with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team Washington Spirit, departing from Manchester City.

Despite having one year left on her contract in England, the 22-year-old chose to transition to the United States, with City receiving a transfer fee.

Morgan expressed her enthusiasm in a club statement: “I wanted to join the Spirit because they have the ambition and resources to become the best team in the NWSL, and striving for that will be a challenging yet enjoyable endeavor.”

She also highlighted the opportunity to work under Jonatan Giráldez, one of the world’s top coaches, as a significant factor in her decision. “Learning from Jonatan and pushing myself to become the best player I can be while helping the team succeed is something I’m really looking forward to,” Morgan said.

Under City manager Gareth Taylor, Morgan struggled to secure consistent playing time. According to a source, her limited minutes were a key reason for leaving the Women’s Super League (WSL) runners-up, where she has spent her entire professional career.

Morgan earned her first England call-up in 2020 and has recently become a regular in manager Sarina Wiegman’s squad. After missing most of the 2021-22 season due to a leg fracture, she made her senior debut in October 2022.

However, consistent playing time remained elusive, and she was an unused substitute at the 2023 World Cup. With intense competition in England’s defense, Morgan needs regular game time to secure her spot in future squads.

Another motivating factor for her move is the recent appointment of Champions League-winning manager Jonatan Giráldez, who will join the Spirit from Barcelona next week.

Morgan will be eligible to join the Spirit on July 15. She will face her former WSL rivals Arsenal when the Gunners visit the Spirit for a pre-season friendly on August 18.

“Esme is an exceptional talent, and we’re thrilled to add her to this talented Spirit roster,” said Mark Krikorian, president of soccer operations. “We expect her success at the highest level in England to translate well as she joins the most competitive league in women’s soccer.”

The Spirit had previously secured NWSL allocation money in anticipation of new signings this summer, coinciding with Giráldez’s arrival in Washington after completing a historic quadruple with Barça.

In January, Washington acquired $250,000 in allocation money—a mechanism allowing teams to spend outside of the NWSL’s salary cap—as part of a draft-day trade that sent Ashley Sanchez to the North Carolina Courage. The Spirit also signed Colombian midfielder Leicy Santos in April.