The forward rejoins the club she left as a young girl and is reunited with her brother, Reece, who plays for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
Sky Sports News understands that the deal – the biggest between Women’s Super League (WSL) clubs – is worth up to £200,000 with bonuses. The initial fee is between £50,000 and £100,000.
One of the reasons behind the transfer was James’ desire to move back down south to be closer to her family. Her brother Reece plays for Chelsea.
On signing for Chelsea, Lauren James said:
“It’s a great feeling to come back home, to a great club, the club I started at the age of six. To be able to play for the first team now and come back here to Emma and the rest of the group is a good feeling.
“I’m excited to get started and I can’t wait to meet all the fans at Kingsmeadow when the new season kicks in.”
James originally joined United from Arsenal in 2017 aged 16, becoming the second-youngest player in the side’s history.
She made an instant impact, scoring 14 goals as they won promotion from the Championship at the first attempt.
James also scored United’s first Women’s Super League goal, putting them on course to a 2-0 win over Liverpool in September 2019.
She helped secure a fourth-place finish in last season’s Women’s Super League, 10 points behind champions Chelsea.
Chelsea women coach Emma Hayes already has an embarrassment of riches at her disposal in attack, so it might not be surprising to see James deployed as an attacking wing-back at times. Either way Chelsea, now have one of the best young talents in England and in the blues team as well.
Welcome to Chelsea Football Club, Lauren!!