Lyon's Sonia Bompastor set to sign: why Chelsea Women landed on the ex-France international

With a little over a month left in the season, it looks like Chelsea Women have found their replacement for club legend Emma Hayes, reportedly securing Lyon's Sonia Bompastor per Tom Garry of The Telegraph.
FC Barcelona v Olympique Lyon - UEFA Women's Champions League Final 2021/22
FC Barcelona v Olympique Lyon - UEFA Women's Champions League Final 2021/22 / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

As much as you may want an appointment of a new manager on the men's side, that news isn't coming, at least for now. It's a different story for Chelsea Women.

Per a report from The Telegraph, CFCW have found the successor. Is it someone of Emma Hayes' caliber? No, it's not, nobody is or ever will be Hayes when it comes to leadership in English women's football. With Casey Stoney and Laura Harvey out of the conversation, the West Londoners reported to have agreed to a deal with current Lyon manager Sonia Bompastor. The report by Tom Garry also stated that the 39-year-old assistant Camille Abily will come over to London with her. ESPN reported that talks were advancing a few weeks ago, but now it seems all but confirmed.

Chelsea sought a woman and a proven winner. It got both in Bompastor. She is currently the only manager to win a UEFA Women's Champions League as a player and as a coach. The former left-sided midfielder and full-back for club and country took over for Jean-Luc Vasseur in 2021, leading Lyon to two Division 1 Féminine titles and most notably a Champions League crown in 2022.

You were never going to find someone with big enough feet to fill the shoes of a trailblazer. Ironically, Hayes has a link with Bompastor. She was a consultant for the Washington Freedom during the same time Bompastor was playing for the WPS outfit. You have to assume that the English manager gave this move a stamp of approval given she has been on record of expressing her involvement in the succession plan.

The question everyone has on their minds is if her success in France playing and coaching can translate to England. Bompastor’s predecessor at Lyon, Vasseur did not have much success at all when he went to the WSL. Due to poor results, and reports by the players of poor training methods, Vasseur was sacked after just 10 games.

The coach prior to Vasseur at Lyon though, Reynald Pedros helped put the Morocco women's national team on the map before Jorge Vilda wrongfully took his place at the helm. So, we've seen some mixed results from past managers of Les Lyonnaises once they've departed.

Is it Lyon's talented player pool that has handed Bompastor all this success? To be honest, nobody really knows. How big of an impact has Bompastor had on a club that was already equipped with established stars? Some would say it's difficult to measure her influence. Her talents as a manager were no doubt on display though in that Champions League final, delivering a masterful gameplan against Barcelona defined by being compact and catching the opposition on the counter.

From what was out there, Bompastor was far and away the most qualified choice for Chelsea Women to replace Emma Hayes

The appointment makes a whole lot of sense though despite obvious concern. She has connections with defender Kadeisha Buchanan and USWNT's Catarina Macario, having coached the two in France. We've seen the 43-year-old embrace the pressure as both a player and a coach on the biggest of stages, something that'd be vital in a position that has so many eyes on you. Since taking the reins in Southeast France, Bompastor has lost just five games. Her managerial style has been quoted to be "strict", a similarity to Hayes who isn't afraid to hold back any punches.

French journalist, Julien Laurens believes Bompastor could be just the perfect person to lead Chelsea into this new era, stating, "For me, she's got all the ingredients to become a top, top head coach. She is already. She speaks English too, so that wouldn't be a barrier. It's hard to follow in the steps of Emma Hayes, of course, it would be hard for anybody. But I think Bompastor would be keen for that challenge. She ticks all the boxes to become the next Chelsea manager."

Stoney and Harvey were never realistic candidates in the first place. The two still have plenty to prove in the NWSL with their respective clubs. San Diego Wave and Seattle Reign FC, the clubs Stoney and Harvey lead are the NWSL's last two Shield winners. Bompastor was next in line. The trophies speak for themselves. We'll just have to wait and see if the silverware is mobile.

The West London outfit and the eight-time Champions League winners are among the last four in this year's competition. If the two were to triumph in their respective semifinals, they would meet with the European crown on the line. In her last game in charge, Hayes takes on the future coach of the club she helped build from the ground up. Now, that's what we call spicy. We're not going to get too ahead of ourselves. A determined Barcelona with a soon to be departing manager as well is the barrier.