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Official: Ji So-yun to leave Chelsea at the end of the season

The mercurial midfielder leaves behind a rich legacy of trophies and artistry with the ball at her feet

Arsenal v Chelsea: The Vitality Women’s FA Cup Final Photo by Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

There are very few players who look like they’re born with the ball at their feet, whose mastery in manipulating the ball looks completely effortless while devastating opposition defenses. Ji So-yun is one such player. And for the past eight years and nearly 200 appearances, since signing in 2014, we’ve had the privilege to witness her ability to create magical moments.

However, the 31-year-old has confirmed today that she’s leaving the club at the end of the season. She will be sorely missed, as one of the longest serving players in this squad and one who has played a key role in ushering in an era of dominance in the WSL under Emma Hayes.

While Ji has played far fewer minutes this season than in seasons past, partly due to her involvement in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup and partly due to her workload being managed as she was needed more in the Champions League than in the WSL, her departure will leave a hole in the squad. Although the blow might be somewhat eased by the rise to prominence of Erin Cuthbert and Jessie Fleming, she will be missed dearly at Cobham. She is a fierce competitor and a much-loved character in the dressing room due to her fun-loving nature. Speaking about her departure, Emma Hayes spared no praise.

“What an honour and a privilege it’s been to coach one of the most amazing players the WSL has ever seen. There’s no question she’s been the most successful player from outside our league.

“Ji’s helped the club grow on and off the pitch and she’s a fabulous character who will be sorely missed. I will miss her terribly and I’m so grateful for everything she’s done for everyone at the football club. We are in a much better place because of it.”

-Emma Hayes; source: Chelsea FC

In an emotional farewell interview with the club channel, Ji proclaimed, “once a Blue, always a Blue”. She spoke about how tough a decision this has been, leaving the familiar environs of Cobham and the close friendships she has built with the manager and the squad.

We will have a couple more opportunities to witness her greatness and show our appreciation for a club legend, with two games left for Chelsea in the league, including a potential title-decider against Manchester United at Kingsmeadow on May 8, followed by the Women’s FA Cup final against Manchester City the weekend after.

Ji has always been a big player for big occasions and there’s no better way to mark your exit than by helping us win a couple more trophies to end this season.