Bjorn to be blue. As of earlier this week, there's a new defender in town. Swedish international Nathalie Björn traded Everton blue for Chelsea blue. The defender was sent to west London for an undisclosed fee before inking a three and a half year deal with the west London outfit, the same length as Lauren James' new CFCW contract.
EFC's ex-No. 5 not only reunites with her national team teammates, Johanna Rytting Kaneryd, and Zecira Musovic, but with a former Toffee's loanee Aggie Beever-Jones. Here's what the defender said regarding what she will bring to the west Londoners:
"You will see that I will fight 100%, I want to win every duel and every game," Bjorn said. "You will see some of my qualities with my passing and passing through lines is my biggest quality, I would say. I hope that I can help the team with my style of play."
The versatile defender departs the outfit from Liverpool after two and a half campaigns. Emma Hayes' crew now owns the two players that made up Sweden's right flank from the Women's World Cup last summer. In 2021, Bjorn traded the top-flight in her home country for the Women's Super League. She played a part in over 3,400 minutes for the Toffees, contributing to three goals including netting the winner against Aston Villa earlier this season.
We've seen players like Kadeisha Buchanan, and Kaneryd struggle coming from outside leagues in the first year or so in England. For the Swede, that shouldn't be much of an issue. The personal connections that she already has at the club on top of the over two years in England's top-flight should make for a seamless transition on the pitch.
Due to the fact she plays at a club that sits in the middle of the WSL table, the talent of Bjorn is often overlooked. Her production and role for club and country are drastically different. It makes sense. Competing alongside world-class players can have an impact on your effectiveness compared to suiting up for an average club outfit.
Nathalie Björn's past and and positional flexibility could make her an incredibly valuable squad player for Chelsea Women going forward
The 26-year-old is Sweden's starting right back, but sees time in the center of defense domestically. She was one of the best full backs in distribution last summer in Australia and New Zealand, finishing in the 94th percentile in progressive passes completed. That was consistent with her performance at the 2022 Euros. Given her role at EFC, we don't see that passing from her which serves as a catalyst to the club moving up the pitch. Rarely did you see her even push into the third third with the Toffees.
She'll provide competition potentially long term for Eve Perisset and Ashley Lawrence while being a "plug and play" player for the Blues within two of the three lines in the formation. Bjorn is also someone that at her stage of her career doesn't require minutes in order to support her development. She's been around the block a few times in this game. At 26, Sweden's No. 14 knows how to compete next to top-class players, and is capable of doing a job in a potential FA Cup final if needed.
On top of Bright and Nouwen out, the CONCACAF W Gold Cup begins in late February. Four Blues fly across the pond to the States for the first-ever iteration of that competition. Two of which are defenders. This is where her versatility will be needed the most. Whether it be as a right back to give Perisset a rest or the center half next to Jess Carter, Bjorn is a player Hayes can trust during this stretch. No need to rush any of the internationals back anymore after that tournament.
Bjorn, for the most part has struggled out of the gate this season, seeing the majority of her time as the right-sided center back role under Brian Sorensen. She hasn't been the most efficient in her tackles this season, a contrast to 2022/23. Last season, the the Swede was in the 81st percentile for tackles among center backs. That production has plummeted this year with her sitting in the 22nd percentile. Who knows what that could be, but what's important to understand is that Bjorn has a past of being a serviceable center half in this league.
Don't expect her to be that lock in the starting XI. Who knows though, I've been proven wrong before. If in-form, we could see her for a run of fixtures. Look for the next manager next campaign to potentially lean on her at times. Other than that, she'll without hesitation be an invaluable rotational asset for the next three-plus years.
Go see Nathalie Björn make an impact in blue at Kingsmeadow and Stamford Bridge. Click the link to secure your spot today.