Probably the most expensive footballer in the world

The US club Bay FC is paying a world record sum for a soccer player from Zambia. Behind this is an ambitious project that wants to shake up football.

Racheal Kundananji: Football fans should remember the name. Now she is probably the most expensive player of all time – and one of the most interesting. The 23-year-old striker has long been considered a superstar in her home country of Zambia; she scored 33 goals in 43 competitive games in a year and a half for her current club Madrid CFF.

The German women’s national team also has memories of the Zambian footballer, as Alexandra Popp’s team lost a test match shortly before the 2023 Women’s World Cup against the enthusiastic Zambians 3-2. Kundananji scored the psychologically important 2-0 for Zambia shortly after the restart – a setback from which the DFB women never recovered.

As reported by Spanish media, among others, Kundananji will move from the strong Spanish women’s league to the USA. For a record transfer fee in women’s football of around 735,000 euros. Kundananji herself has already posted corresponding reports on her social networks.

The sensational transfer is made possible by one of the most exciting projects in football at the moment: Bay FC. The club is preparing to shake up the highly rated American women’s professional league in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). This was reported by the trade journal “Marca” and other media on Tuesday, citing Madrid CFF circles.

Official offer initially probably rejected

It was said that no player in the history of women’s football had ever changed clubs for that much money. The new club from the San Francisco region in California will initially pay the full transfer fee. In addition, performance-related bonus payments totaling the equivalent of around 70,000 euros were agreed. However, neither Madrid nor Bay FC gave specific figures in their official announcements about the move.

As the trade magazine “Goal” reports, Madrid CFF had previously rejected an official offer of 400,000 euros for Racheal Kundananji. The player then forced the move herself, and Bay FC also agreed to pay the fixed transfer fee of $750,000 (around 735,000 euros). US sports magazines speak of a “blockbuster transfer”, i.e. a sensational transfer.

The advantages for both sides are obvious: In addition to a handsome salary, Kundananji in the USA has the opportunity to become the figurehead of the up-and-coming NWSL. Similar to Argentina’s world champion Lionel Messi, who moved from Paris St. Germain to Inter Miami last summer, it could take US soccer to a new level.

The club founder looks at the return

The move is an absolute coup for the club from near San Francisco, which was only founded in April 2023. The young club appears on the scene with a bang and can boast a top international star in its first season.

Former US national players Aly Wagner, Brandi Chastain, Danielle Slaton and Leslie Osborne are among those behind Bay FC. According to media reports, together with the investment company Sixth Street, they pumped 53 million US dollars (around 52 million euros) into the club in order to make it immediately competitive. Bay FC’s goals are ambitious. “The more you invest in a project, the more return you get afterwards,” says Aly Wagner, describing her club’s formula for success.

The former midfield strategist, who embarked on a successful career as a sports presenter after retiring in 2010, currently serves as co-chair of Bay FC. According to Wagner, she wants the club not only to reach the same level as men’s football in the USA, but also to become a global sports brand, as Wagner described her vision to the “US Campaign” portal. They and the investors certainly also have the year 2026 in mind. Then the (men’s) World Cup will be held in the USA, including in San Francisco’s Bay Area, where Bay FC plays its home games.