Arsenal captain Leah Williamson is staying in North London, signing a new contract with the club while Barcelona’s Mariona Caldentey has also reportedly accepted the club's offer.

Williamson, who also captains the England women's national football team, has spent the entirety of her pro career at Arsenal, in addition to being a lifelong fan of the Gunners. The defender has made 232 appearances for the club since 2014, stating in a press release that she's "very happy to be staying."

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)

"Everyone knows what Arsenal means to me, but I think every time I sign a new contract, I feel that love ignite all over again," she said. "This is a place where I can still continue to grow, develop and be challenged."

Williamson last signed a new contract with Arsenal in 2022, before battling her way back from a season-ending ACL tear that kept her out of the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Arsenal teammate Stina Blackstenius has also re-signed with the club, while longtime striker Vivianne Miedema is set to depart

And the Gunners appear to have selected Miedema’s replacement, with Barcelona forward Mariona Caldentey reportedly joining the London side next season. The 28-year-old is set to announce the deal in the coming days, having previously been linked to the Washington Spirit. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)

Caldentey had been with Barcelona since 2014, making 194 appearances and scoring 70 goals with the Spanish club. She's fresh off of winning a third Champions League trophy with Barcelona, and is also coming off of a Women's World Cup win with Spain last summer.

While Barcelona appeared to have confirmed Caldentey's move Tuesday afternoon, Arsenal has yet to release an official statement.

Barcelona was crowned champion of the Champions League on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Lyon in Bilbao.

Alexia "La Reina" Putellas, who recently re-signed with Barcelona, came off the bench to score the team's second goal. Fellow Ballon d’Or winner Aitana Bonmatí provided the team’s first. After the game, defender Lucy Bronze said Putellas was nicknamed "the queen" for a reason.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)

"Alexia is the captain of the team and she's the queen of Barcelona for a reason,"  defender Lucy Bronze told DAZN. "She's got the quality to do that in the last minute of the Champions League final when we were up against it at the end and it just sealed the win for us. It was amazing."

The victory marked Barcelona's first win over Lyon in a UWCL final, having previously gone up against the French side at both the 2019 and 2022 Champions League finals. It's also Barcelona's second Champions League title in a row.

"It's hard to win it once, but to do it back-to-back, Lyon showed how difficult it is and this team has finally done that," Bronze said. "I think we go down in history as one of the best teams in Europe."

This season, the team also secured a quadruple for the first time in club history, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. The win ensures that coach Jonatan Giráldez — who has officially departed the team to join the NWSL's Washington Spirit — leaves Europe a champion.

"It was an incredible game. I am really happy, it's one of the best days of my life for sure," Giráldez told broadcaster DAZN after the game. "We did an amazing job. I am very proud of all of them."

Following the win, Putellas said her team "can't ask for anything else."

"Our objective was to win four out of four," the Spain international told reporters. "We have achieved everything we wanted. Every minute of sacrifice has been worth the effort — and I'd say that not after the game, but before, just entering in the stadium, with all the support we had here, it was worth it."

2024 Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Aitana Bonmatí said that the crowd support made it "feel like Camp Nou."

"I am on cloud nine right now," she said. "It is an historic day which we will remember forever."

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off in Bilbao on Saturday, with a couple of familiar foes set to face off for the trophy.

Olympique Lyonnais Féminin, making its 11th final appearance since 2010, will go head to head with a Barcelona side making its fourth final appearance in a row.

This will be the third time these two teams meet in the UWCL title game, having previously appeared in the 2019 and 2022 finals. Lyon won both of those prior games against Barcelona, alongside a total of eight Champions League trophies. That’s double that of any other club, with Eintracht Frankfurt coming in a distant second with four. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by UEFA Women’s Champions League (@wchampionsleague)

Should Barcelona win, this would be the team's third title — breaking a tie for the third in the UWCL total titles race. 

But as these teams return to the UWCL final, it also marks the end of an era for both clubs. The game will be the last for both club managers, as Barcelona’s Jonatan Giráldez and Lyon’s Sonia Bompastor depart for new jobs after the season's end.

Giráldez is set to leave for the NWSL's Washington Spirit, while Bompastor will take over for incoming USWNT coach Emma Hayes at Chelsea. Both coaches have earned one UWCL trophy during their tenures, while Bompastor also brought two Champions League trophies to Lyon as a player. She was the first coach to win a UWCL trophy as both a coach and player.

This season, Barcelona is looking for its first quadruple, having won a fifth Liga F title alongside the Copa de La Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

"We hope he can go out with the four trophies because we know how competitive and ambitious he is," Barcelona midfielder Patri Guijarro told ESPN. "It has been a winning era with him in charge and for him to go out with all four trophies would be historic and incredible."

But Lyon's Damaris Egurrola is excited about her team's chances of overcoming Barcelona once again — and to do it in front of family and friends.

"Lyon have something special," she told Forbes ahead of the weekend's final. "We have a great team and we have the players with enough talent to win any match."

The game will be a homecoming for Egurrola, who began her professional career with Athletic Bilbao.

"I’ve been thinking of this day and night," she said. "I’ve been dreaming of playing this match. Having the opportunity to play in San Mames is amazing. This is where it all started for me."

The UEFA Women's Champions League final kicks off Saturday, May 25th at 12 PM ET and is free to stream on DAZN.

Alexia Putellas has re-signed with FC Barcelona on a new two-year deal that will run through 2026. The agreement includes an option for a one-year extension. 

The two-time Ballon d’Or winner has been with Barcelona for 12 years, and her previous contract was set to expire next month. However, she’s spent the better part of the last two seasons battling injuries, starting with an ACL tear that kept her out of the 2022 UEFA European Women's Football Championship and limited her participation in Spain’s FIFA Women's World Cup win last summer. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)

Putellas returned in March from her latest injury setback, making 25 appearances across all competitions for Barcelona this season and scoring 10 goals. 

In total, the midfielder has made 400 appearances for Barcelona. Among her 20 major trophies with the club include eight Liga F titles and two UEFA Champions League titles — including helping the team to its first European trophy in 2021. 

She then won the Ballon d’Or in back-to-back seasons in 2021 and 2022. 

Putellas could add a third Champions League trophy next weekend, when Barcelona faces familiar foe Lyon, a team they’ve lost to in two previous Champions League finals. Should they secure the UWCL, they would win the quadruple for the first time, having already won Liga F, the Copa de la Reina, and the Spanish Supercopa. 

Barcelona coach Jonatan Giráldez has confirmed his departure from the club amid reports that he will be making a move to the NWSL in 2024.

In announcing his departure, Giráldez said that he had received an offer from “outside of Europe.” The 32-year-old will remain in charge of reigning Champions League titleholder Barcelona until the end of the team’s current campaign, which is when his contract is set to expire.

“I communicated to the club a few days ago my intention to not renew my contract,” Giráldez said in a news conference. “I wanted the timing of the decision to allow the club the most time possible to plan for the good of the team. Also, on a personal level, I wanted to avoid the focus being on [my future] when we get to March, April-time when we are usually competing for titles.

“Since [sporting director] Marc Vivés came in, we had been negotiating [a renewal]. There were things left to negotiate, relating to my staff, and during that impasse I received another offer which I decided to accept.”

Giráldez would not confirm his next move, although reports pointed to an offer from an NWSL club. Relevo reported Monday that the offer came from the Washington Spirit, who parted ways with Mark Parsons in October after missing the playoffs this season.

Giráldez would not confirm the reports but said it was a “difficult” decision to make.

“I can only say it’s outside of Europe,” he said. “I would not want to compete against Barça.”

Giráldez denied the pressure of the Barcelona role taking a toll, and noted that he would have continued if not for the alternate offer that made him reconsider. He also denied making the move solely based on money.

“If I was only deciding based on that, I would have left before,” he said. “When I make a decision, I look at many aspects. I have received much bigger offers than the one I have now.

“I assess many different things, not just money: the challenge, the sporting project and my family. It’s a professional and a family decision. It is to do with the objective of developing personally.”

Giráldez has led Barcelona since 2021, when he took over for Lluís Cortés. He had been an assistant under Cortés for the previous two seasons. In his time as head coach, Barcelona has won Liga F in each of the last two seasons, including winning all 30 league games in the 2021-22 season. They also reached the Champions League finals in both seasons, and they won the 2023 title.

He was named to the shortlist for the Best FIFA Women’s Coach award last week, alongside Chelsea’s Emma Hayes and England’s Sarina Wiegman.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes is upset with the officiating in her club’s 2-2 draw against Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Controversial decisions “robbed” the English club from a win in its first match of the Champions League group stage, Hayes said. In the second half, two key decisions went against the Blues, with a questionable penalty awarded to Madrid in the 78th minute and a would-be last-minute winner for Chelsea ruled offside.

“I think we’ve been robbed of what should have been a 3-1 game,” said Hayes, who has been named head coach of the U.S. women’s national team.

Video assistant referee (VAR) review was not available. After the match, UEFA released a statement on VAR is being rolled out gradually across its competitions, though it did not provide any timeline for when it might come to the Women’s Champions League group stage.

“UEFA already plans to implement VAR at the UEFA Women’s Nations League finals next year and will continuously evaluate the possibility to implement VAR in competitions or stages of competitions where it hasn’t been so far,” the statement read.

In the fifth and final minute of stoppage time of Wednesday’s draw, Chelsea scored on a close-range goal from Niamh Charles. But the flag was raised for offside, to the confusion of coaches and players alike. While Kerr was in an offside position, it was not in a way that impacted play, Hayes said.

“It’s embarrassing,” Hayes said. “I had to check because Niamh’s onside, but the reason the goal was ruled offside was because Sam [Kerr] was interfering with the goalkeeper.

“[Kerr is] about seven yards away from the goalkeeper, she’s nowhere near her, so I cannot understand the decision whatsoever.”

Following the draw, other players called out the lack of VAR, which isn’t set to be used in Champions League competition until the knockout rounds.

“I think it has to be used in the Champions League from minute one when the group stage starts,” Barcelona winger Caroline Graham Hansen said Thursday. “Every year we are doing things to improve [the game], but it’s clear that it should be utilised in the group phase as well as the knockouts.

“Like [this week], the games are intense, there are a lot of decisive situations and, at the end of the day, I think everyone just wants games to end with the result as it should end. If we can have help, that helps.”

Her teammate Salma Paralluelo echoed the calls for VAR.

“At the end of the day, VAR is a tool that makes things as fair as possible on the pitch because of the support it provides,” Paralluelo said. “Not having it can lead to wrong decisions. We need it both in the league and in the Champions League [group phase]. I think it is super necessary.”

Even before Vlatko Andonovski officially resigned as head coach of the U.S. women’s national team, the debates about who should replace him already had begun.

Despite the many differing opinions, everyone can agree on this: The new USWNT coach will face a tall task in preparing the team for next summer’s Olympics. And while the USWNT job is arguably the most desirable position in women’s soccer, it comes with great expectations.

Who has the skills and experience needed to lead the USWNT into its next era? Just Women’s Sports takes a look.

Note: Sarina Wiegman is not on this list because she has made it pretty clear that she is committed to remaining with England.

Lluís Cortés

One report already has linked Cortés to the USWNT as a possible replacement for Andonovski. The former head coach of FC Barcelona Femení, he is stepping down as coach of the Ukrainian women’s national team at the end of August upon the expiration of his contract.

Per The Athletic, Cortes had been in conversations with some NWSL clubs, but Relevo has reported that he also has been contacted by U.S. Soccer. Under his tutelage, Barcelona won the 2020-21 UEFA Women’s Champions League title. The team finished as runners-up in 2018-19 and twice won the Copa de la Reina.

Lorne Donaldson

Donaldson might be a sleeper pick for the USWNT head coach, but he’d make a lot of sense. His connection to Sophia Smith, Jaelin Howell and Mallory Swanson — all of whom he helped develop at the youth level — is intriguing, and his success with Jamaica despite limited resources even moreso.

One big knock against Donaldson is his limited experience, having only coached at the developmental club level and now for the Jamaican national team. But he is worth consideration, especially after leading Jamaica to its first-ever knockout round at the 2023 World Cup.

Tony Gustavsson

The Australia head coach feels like a somewhat natural hire for the USWNT. A longtime assistant coach for the U.S. under two separate head coaches, Gustavsson was a key member of the coaching staff for a long time. So long, in fact, that he designed the set piece plays that helped Carli Lloyd score twice during the 2015 World Cup final.

The one thing Gustavsson lacked in earlier USWNT coaching searches was head coaching experience. Since 2019, though, he took the helm for Australia, coaching the Matildas to their first-ever World Cup semifinal appearance.

Laura Harvey

Harvey is the lone NWSL manager on this list solely because the USWNT needs a coach with quality international experience (the Mark Parsons Netherlands era is an automatic disqualifier).

The OL Reign head coach has that experience – and with the USWNT. She’s worked as a head coach at the developmental levels while also serving as an assistant coach to the senior team from 2020 through 2021. She also has experience as a youth assistant in the England national team system. In short: Harvey checks most, if not all, of the boxes.

The three-time NWSL coach of the year, she also won six trophies while coaching at Arsenal. From her time as manager of the U-20 U.S. national team, she knows many of the younger players who are coming up in the ranks and will be tasked with taking over the USWNT and carrying on the legacy. And while she has said her priority right now remains with OL Reign, she has not ruled out the possibility of a return to the USWNT.

“I enjoyed my time at U.S. Soccer. That’s no doubt,” she said. “The U.S. women’s national team is probably the top job in the world, if not a top three job in the world. That’s just reality. And if my name is anywhere near it, then that’s an honor.”

Emma Hayes

Emma Hayes has found immense success with Chelsea in the Women’s Super League, and she has been discussed before as a possible coach for England. She is familiar with the U.S. system, having coached at the collegiate level and for the Chicago Red Stars from 2008 to 2010. And since 2012, she has built Chelsea into a powerhouse program in the WSL.

Recently, Hayes signed USWNT star midfielder Catarina Macario and prospect Mia Fishel, and she has long coached Australian star Sam Kerr, so she’d clearly have some pull with players on the team. Whether or not she wants to leave what she’s building at Chelsea, however, remains to be seen.

Nebraska volleyball is aiming to shatter the all-time attendance record for women’s sports.

What started out as a “joke,” head coach John Cook told The Athletic, has turned into reality, with more than 90,000 fans expected to come together for the Cornhuskers’ match against Omaha at Lincoln Memorial Stadium.

“We never thought seriously about doing it,” Cook said. But then rival Wisconsin drew a crowd of 16,833 people in its basketball arena, breaking the regular-season attendance record for a women’s volleyball match.

And Nebraska, which holds 13 of the 14 largest regular-season crowds and has played in front of eight of the nine largest collegiate crowds in the sport, couldn’t let that stand.

“The attendance record for volleyball belongs in the state of Nebraska,” Nebraska athletics director Trev Alberts said in April.

Of course, their basketball arena wouldn’t work – it wasn’t big enough.

“Wisconsin, being as competitive as they are, went and took one of our attendance records away,” Cook said. “So we’re like, ‘How are we going to get it back?’”

Enter Lincoln Memorial Stadium, which seats 83,406 in the stands and will hold extra seats on the stadium floor and in added bleachers. A total of 82,900 tickets were sold over three days in April, and if the weather holds the team is expected to play in front of more than 90,000 fans – and likely even more than the 91,648 that attended FC Barcelona’s Women’s Champions League semifinal against Wolfsburg last April. With that match at Camp Nou, Barcelona set the world record for attendance at a women’s sporting event.

That’s right – Nebraska volleyball could take down soccer powerhouse FC Barcelona and their women’s sporting event attendance world record because of Midwestern rivalry.

The volleyball match also is set to break the record for the biggest crowd at a U.S. women’s sporting event, overtaking the 90,185 fans who attended the 1999 World Cup final between the U.S. and China at the Rose Bowl. And that’s not to mention setting the Memorial Stadium attendance record, which currently sits at 91,585.

“Yes, we believe that goal will be attained,” Nebraska athletics director Trev Alberts told USA TODAY Sports. “I think the number is going to be pushing closer to 95,000.”

After conceding two goals in the first half of Saturday’s Women’s Champions League final, Barcelona staged a massive comeback in the second half to defeat VfL Wolfsburg, 3-2, and claim its second Champions League title in three years.

Wolfsburg entered Saturday’s match at Philips Stadion in Eindhoven, Netherlands, as the clear underdog, but the German team didn’t look it once the whistle sounded. In the third minute, Ewa Pajor picked the ball off the foot of Barcelona’s Lucy Bronze, blasting it past goalkeeper Sandra Paños. Wolfsburg then made it 2-0 in the 37th minute with a goal from Alexandra Popp.

The first half had many Barcelona fans thinking back to last year’s Champions League final, when their team conceded three goals to Lyon in the first 33 minutes of the match and wasn’t able to turn things around.

But Barcelona extinguished those comparisons as soon as the second half began. Patri Guijarro scored two goals in two minutes and Fridolina Rolfo added the game-winner in the 70th minute. (Video highlights are embedded below.)

Saturday also saw yet another women’s soccer attendance record broken. With 33,147 fans, it was the best attended women’s soccer match ever in the Netherlands.

The UEFA Women’s Champions League on June 3 will pit two of the game’s brightest stars against one another in Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas and Wolfsburg’s Alexandra Popp.

Both made returns for their respective clubs in the last few days. Popp had missed several matches with an Achilles injury but came back to score for Wolfsburg in her team’s 3-2 win against Arsenal in Monday’s Champions League semifinal.

Putellas made her first appearance since tearing her ACL last July in Barca’s 3-0 win over Sporting Huelva, which clinched their fourth straight Liga F title. Her team already had clinched its spot in the Champions League final.

So what can fans expect from the title matchup?

When did these teams last play one another?

Barcelona and Wolfsburg last faced each other during the 2021-22 Champions League semifinals. Putellas and Barcelona won 5-3 on aggregate but lost to Olympique Lyonnais in the final.

Wolfsburg have made six Champions League final appearances, with their most recent coming in 2020. Only Lyon have made more appearances in the final, which makes this familiar territory for the German club. But Wolfsburg haven’t won the Champions League since 2014.

Barcelona, meanwhile, won the UWCL just two seasons ago, beating out English club Chelsea for the title in 2021.

Who are the players to watch for each side?

While Popp and Putellas will be in sharper form by the June final, several other players also should feature heavily in this matchup.

Asisat Oshoala has been dominant for Barcelona this season, leading the team with 20 goals through 24 matches – a suitable follow-up to last season, when she led the team with 20 goals through 19 matches.

Midfielder Aitana Bonmati has helped to fill the hole left by Putellas, providing goal-scoring, playmaking and leadership inside the middle third. She’s leading the Champions League in assists, with seven through UWCL competition.

Popp has led Wolfsburg in scoring, with 14 goals through 17 matches despite missing several weeks due to injury. She’s followed by Ewa Pajor, who has 11 goals in 16 matches as well as seven assists. She ties Popp for a team-high 18 points.

Pajor has been the top scorer in Champions League competition, notching eight goals so far.