French club Olympique de Marseille is serious in their pursuit of the former Reign FC goalkeeper, according to L’Equipe. Solo said in an interview with Ville Magazine that she doesn’t know where she’ll be playing next, but this report suggests she could be returning to the field very soon.
Marseille won promotion to France’s top flight last summer, and this past season finished in fourth place. The feeling is that the club could be one or two additions away from challenging for the title, most recently won by Paris-Saint Germain. Adding a goalkeeper of Solo’s caliber — with a completely rebuilt and rehabilitated shoulder — would be a boost to any club, especially one with expectations to be a title contender.
Olympique de Marseille’s American owner, Frank McCourt (best known as the former owner of Major League Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers), could be a factor in this transaction. His club has both men’s & women’s teams under the Marseille banner, and if one wanted to make a headline-grabbing acquisition, then certainly Hope Solo would get you headlines.
The report also cites one of Solo’s representatives suggesting that being able to play in the country that will host the next FIFA Women’s World Cup has some serious appeal to the free agent goalkeeper. Marseille’s pursuit of Solo is said to be facing some competition from clubs in China and Germany, although the L’Equipe report doesn’t specify which other clubs are interested in acquiring Solo.
So what does this mean for the Seattle Reign FC? While the team still holds her NWSL rights, any possibility of Solo returning to play for Seattle would likely be in 2018 at the earliest. Even then it’s too early to tell if she would return to Seattle as a U.S. Allocated Player or sign a standard deal directly with the Reign. Given her tumultuous split with U.S. Soccer last year, repairing her relationship with the federation could be a ways away. However, both she and the Reign have expressed mutual admiration for each other, and the team is on the record that she is more than welcome to return.
That said, we know Seattle is happy with their current goalkeepers. Haley Kopmeyer has put in the work and earned the right to be the team’s first choice goalkeeper, and Madalyn Schiffel is an exciting prospect. Time will tell if Hope Solo returns to Seattle, but if she has called it a day on her time with the Reign, owner Bill Predmore has said a testimonial match would absolutely happen if she wanted it.
With European clubs getting ready for the 2017-18 campaign, this is something to keep an eye on. We already knew Hope Solo was going to be in Europe next month, serving as a pundit for Eurosport’s coverage of the UEFA Women’s European Championship. It could very well be that she’ll be staying in Europe after the tournament and make her return to the field at Stade Roger-Lebert.