The winter transfer window came to a close for most of Europe on Thursday night, signalling the end of a busy season for its top clubs, with a flurry of moves made over the past month.
Clubs throughout the continent and beyond were looking to improve their sides for the second half of the 2023-24 campaign. That included several Canadians changing clubs in some high-profile swaps.
Ahead of a summer that could include the Copa America for the Canadian men’s national team and will include the Paris 2024 Olympics for the women’s team, these moves may have big implications on who pulls on a red shirt at those respective tournaments.
Here are six major moves involving Canadian internationals from this past month:
Jessie Fleming to Portland Thorns
How about a potentially record-breaking transfer to kick things off?
On Thursday, the Portland Thorns of the NWSL announced the acquisition of Canadian international midfielder Jessie Fleming from FA WSL leaders Chelsea. Reports from the UK say that the Thorns paid a transfer fee of £250,000, which would be the highest fee for a player in NSWL history.
The 25-year-old Fleming had an outstanding four-year spell with Chelsea, scoring 12 times in 111 appearances in all competitions. She won the Women’s Super League and FA Cup three times each, and helped the club reach the 2021 UEFA Women’s Champions League final.
This season, however, saw a significant dip in minutes for the London, Ont. midfielder, and with news that manager Emma Hayes is departing for the US women’s national team after this campaign, there isn’t exactly stability at Chelsea right now.
Portland offers Fleming a chance to be a key player like she is with the national team, and also a comfortable environment that will include current and former national teammates Janine Beckie and Christine Sinclair. The Thorns coach, meanwhile, is Mike Norris who was a goalkeeper coach with the Canadian women’s national team for several years.
Theo Corbeanu to Granada CF
After four seasons with English Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers, Canadian international Theo Corbeanu is heading to Spain where he will join LaLiga relegation fighters Granada CF.
The winger only appeared once for Wolves, instead spending the past few seasons on five different loan spells throughout the English league system, and in the 2.Bundesliga. His most recent loan saw him spend the first half of this season with Grasshopper in Switzerland. It was a fairly successful stint for Corbeanu, scoring once and adding five assists in sixteen appearances. His former coach even called him the best dribbler in the league.
A permanent move to Granada will provide some clarity for the 21-year-old, who has made seven appearances for Canada, scoring twice. Getting consistent minutes in one of the world’s top leagues should give Corbeanu an excellent chance to get back into the national team, even if the right wing position has been tremendously hard to crack.
Corbeanu’s new side currently sit 19th in the Spanish top flight, six points from safety. The Canadian is one of a number of moves Granada made in an attempt to avoid a return to the Segunda, including adding Poland international defender Kamil Piątkowski on loan from Red Bull Salzburg and Uruguayan international defender Bruno Méndez, and Cameroon international Martin Hongla.
The 24-year-old winger (he turns 25 on February 8) who previously played for Sigma FC in League1 Ontario was drafted out of Syracuse to the New England Revolution in MLS. After three quality seasons in MLS, he moved to Club Brugge in Belgium in 2021, with whom he won the league and appeared in the UEFA Champions League.
It was Buchanan’s incredible performance for Canada at the World Cup, including assisting on the nation’s first-ever goal at the competition, that reportedly initially caught the interest of Inter Milan. A move to the Nerazzurri has long been rumoured but was finally made official on January 4. Critically, his contract runs through 2028, suggesting significant belief in the player.
While for the time being just getting to train and learn from his teammates at Inter Milan is a significant development opportunity for Buchanan, long-term playing time will become paramount. Buchanan has yet to see the pitch since joining the club.
That may revolve around the future of 27-year-old Dutch international Denzel Dumfries, who is rumoured to be leaving the club this summer. Regardless, the prospect of seeing a Canadian in the Serie A is incredibly exciting.
Shelina Zadorsky to West Ham on loan
Another Canadian women’s national team player who was in need of increased minutes ahead of this summer’s Olympic Games was central defender Shelina Zadorsky. The 31-year-old had appeared just twice for Tottenham in the league this season, despite formerly being the captain of the side.
A loan move to West Ham, announced on January 3, should solve that issue as Zadorsky reunites with former Tottenham coach Rehanne Skinner.
Zadorsky went the full 90 this past weekend in a 2-1 victory over Bristol City (and fellow Canadian international Sarah Stratigakis) in the league, which is good sign. This was a big match for West Ham, who are currently three points above Bristol City in the FA WSL relegation battle.
The London, Ont. born defender faces stiff competition for a starting spot at this summer’s Olympics, even with Bev Priestman deploying three central defenders of late. Vanessa Gilles (Lyon), Kadeisha Buchanan (Chelsea) and Jade Rose (Harvard University) are the preferred options in recent matches, but a solid second half in the FA WSL could put Zadorsky right back in that conversation.
Kamal Miller to Portland Timbers
Portland is rapidly becoming a Canadian football outpost in the United States as multiple members of the men’s and women’s national teams have moved to the city of late.
One of the most headline-worthy includes Canadian national team defender Kamal Miller’s trade from Inter Miami to the Portland Timbers in exchange for an international roster spot and $625,000 in GAM (general allocation money). The Timbers become Miller’s fourth MLS club, having previously played for CF Montréal and Orlando City as well. With Miami, Miller made 35 appearances in all competitions, winning the 2023 Leagues Cup.
From an exposure standpoint, it is disappointing to see Miller leave Miami, and the eyes of many who tuned in to watch Lionel Messi, especially since it has long appeared like the next move for the 26-year-old could be across the pond to Europe. From a national team chemistry standpoint, however, the move could have significant benefits.
Miller joins a Portland Timbers side that already features Canadian international centreback Zac McGraw as well as goalkeepers James Pantemis and Maxime Crépeau. Former Valour FC midfielder Sean Rea is on trial with the Timbers as well.
Nichelle Prince to Kansas City Current
After seven seasons, the entirety of her professional career to date, with the Houston Dash, Nichelle Prince is on her way to Missouri to join the Kansas City Current.
Prince was traded to the Current in exchange for an international roster spot and forward Cece Kizer. The 28-year-old from Ajax, Ont. scored 14 times in 107 matches in all competitions for the Dash.
However, just seven of those matches came during the 2023 campaign as Prince missed most of the year through an Achilles injury. Now healthy again, Prince was fantastic for Canada this fall, scoring away to Jamaica in Olympic qualifiers, before a brace at home against Australia in a friendly in December.
The Current are partly owned by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his wife Brittany. The team is coached by former USWNT boss Vlatko Andonovski and includes Canadian international teammate Desiree Scott.