The Orlando Pride have signed Maltese star Haley Bugeja through 2023, the NWSL club announced Friday.
Bugeja joins Orlando from US Sassuolo of Italy’s Serie A, where she finished the 2021-22 season with three goals and two assists after battling injury. The 18-year-old made her professional debut with the club in 2020, contributing a team-leading 12 goals and one assist as a rookie.
The newest resident of the City Beautiful 🔥#PrideOfOrlando pic.twitter.com/y3nzswYozl— Orlando Pride (@ORLPride) July 1, 2022
The newest resident of the City Beautiful 🔥#PrideOfOrlando pic.twitter.com/y3nzswYozl
Buugeja has attracted a considerable amount of buzz at a young age, named No. 3 in GOAL.com’s “NXGN 2022: The 20 best wonderkids in women’s football” and No. 15 in “ESPN’s 21 Best Women Players 21 or Under.” She was also identified as one of UEFA’s top 10 women’s players to watch.
“Haley is one of the brightest young talents in the world and we are absolutely thrilled to have her join our Club. She has already shown her quality at a high level in Italy and at the international level with Malta, and she is still just scratching the surface of the player that she can become,” said Pride general manager Ian Fleming. “She is a constant threat to opposing defenses and will be a valuable addition to our group, both in the immediate and moving into the future, as we continue to build and bolster our roster. We are all very excited to see her in Orlando, as a member of our Pride, very soon.”
The acquisition comes after the Pride traded star forward Sydney Leroux to Angel City FC this week, capping a series of marquee exits from the team and prompting a response from the club’s main supporters group. In the Leroux deal, Orlando picked up ACFC’s 2024 natural first-round draft pick in another effort to stockpile young talent for the future.
Bugeja will join the Pride pending the receipt of a P-1 visa and International Transfer Certificate.