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Portland Thorns have added Canadian international midfielder Jessie Fleming from Chelsea FC, the club announced on Wednesday. She'll join the Thorns pending the receipt of her visa and international transfer certificate. The transfer fee is reportedly $255,000 with conditionals included.

"I am very excited to be joining the Portland Thorns. More than anything, I am looking forward to being a part of the incredible community surrounding the team that is so often talked about with Portland," Fleming said in a club statement. "I feel honored to represent these people and this city, and cannot wait to get started."

Leaving Chelsea

The 25-year-old midfielder previously joined Chelsea in 2020 and she leaves the club with over 100 appearances. During her four years in England, she won three consecutive Women's Super Leagues and FA Cups, the FA Women's League Cup, and the Women's FA Community Shield. She was also part of the runners-up Chelsea squad in the 2020-21 UEFA Women's Champions League.

While playing for the club, she reached the Olympic podium with Canada during the Tokyo Games, securing the gold medal by scoring Canada's lone goal during the final and converting her penalty. Her breakout summer earned her a Ballon d'Or nomination. 

Blues manager Emma Hayes and her Chelsea side are one of the most accomplished WSL teams. A loaded squad, with plenty of depth, with experienced and young players, had bred a competitive environment few clubs can compete with. It likely means an understanding of one's role within the squad and a competition for minutes. Still despite her success and title wins, Fleming leaves the Blues for a different and perhaps more consistent role with the Thorns. 

A new Thorns era

Fleming's arrival to the Thorns comes at a crossroads for the club as they welcome in a new ownership group with RAJ Sports, and deal with multiple offseason player departures.

The Thorns midfield lost Crystal Dunn in free agency and traded Costa Rican international Rocky Rodriguez to Angel City FC. Fleming's attacking ability will be an asset alongside fellow midfielders Sam Coffey and 18-year-old Olivia Moultrie.

"Adding a player of Jessie's caliber is a big step for us as we continue to build the roster for 2024 and beyond," head coach Mike Norris said. 

"Jessie has great ability to connect and create in midfield, which makes her a very dynamic option for us in the middle of the field. Her eye for a final pass will be a great asset for our front line. Add in her physical capabilities to go box-to-box, we feel that we have acquired a very complete world-class midfielder."

What's next

The Thorns are currently in preseason mode and will participate in the upcoming 2024 Coachella Valley Invitational hosted by AEG. The preseason matches at CVI featuring NWSL teams will take place in Indio, Calif., at the Empire Polo Club from Feb. 20-24. San Diego Wave FC, Bay FC and Angel City FC will also participate in the exhibition matches. 

The 2024 NWSL regular season will begin on March 16 and the Thorns will begin their schedule on the road with the season opener against Kansas City Current.