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Debinha won’t return to North Carolina Courage in 2023

(Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports)

After six seasons with the North Carolina Courage, midfielder Debinha has informed the club that she will not return in 2023.

The Brazilian national team star is a free agent this offseason. She has spent the entirety of her NWSL career with the Courage, and Debinha appeared in her 100th regular-season match during the club’s 2022 finale at San Diego. Through her six seasons, the midfielder has scored 35 goals.

She had a career-best 12 goals in 2022, and she was named to the NWSL First Team Best XI and an MVP finalist.

During her time with the club, Debinha won two NWSL championships, three NWSL Shields, the 2018 ICC Championship and the 2022 Challenge Cup title.

“It’s difficult to say goodbye to a club and community that has played such a big part in my life,” Debinha said. “I would like to thank the Courage for six amazing seasons, a time that we achieved so much and set a very high bar for the growth of women’s fútbol.”

Wishing the club “nothing but the best” for the future, Debinha also thanked the Courage fans for their “unwavering support.”

“I will always hold my time in North Carolina in a special place and have high regard for Sean, the coaching staff, the entire organization, and all those who helped me develop into the player I am today,” she said. “I will forever hold dearly my teammates and all we accomplished. I would like thank the amazing fans of the Courage for their unwavering support my entire time in North Carolina.

“I will forever be grateful for my time with the Courage.”

Notably, Debinha had been signed to a multi-year contract that included a club option. However, the midfielder was granted free agency under the league’s new CBA following an independent arbitrator’s review of the agreement that granted her and others eligible for free agency.

“We are extremely sad to see Deb leave and we know she does so as one of the most iconic players in our club’s history. We’ve watched her develop into a national and international superstar over the last half-decade with our club,” said Chief Soccer officer Curt Johnson, noting that the club made a “significant offer” in order to keep her in North Carolina.

“In our conversations, though, it became clear that – despite a deep love for this club and this community – she finds it in her best interest to continue her professional career elsewhere and we wish her nothing but the best,” he continued.

Off the field, this season was a difficult one for the Courage, as former head coach Paul Riley was the subject of abuse and sexual misconduct allegations. The joint investigation done by the NWSL and NWSLPA revealed that Riley’s misconduct continued while he was head coach at North Carolina.

Debinha had previously been linked to a possible move to Arsenal, which is currently down a number of players, including Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema who have both suffered ACL injuries.