Sky Sports News reporter Anton Toloui gives the lowdown from all angles on what the future looks like for Manchester United and England goalkeeper Mary Earps as she enters the last six months of her contract
Tuesday 2 January 2024 14:39, UK
Mary Earps is one of the biggest stars on the planet and has no shortage of interest as she enters the last six months of her contract at Manchester United.
Arsenal made a big money offer for her in the summer, while the biggest clubs in Europe have closely watched the England No 1's situation.
Mary Earps' performances, development and character have launched her career into another stratosphere.
She's gone from the international wilderness to soon-to-be two-time FIFA Best Goalkeeper. That's in the space of just four years, all while becoming the most recognisable star during England's run to the World Cup final earlier this year.
Now 30, it's time for Earps to chase two things: Cheques and Championships.
Any contract signed either in January or in the summer will almost certainly make her the highest paid goalkeeper in the world, which is unsurprising given the popularity, commercial success and talent she brings to a club.
A player as good as Earps also deserves to be contending for the biggest trophies in the club game.
The team she signs for will have to be able to back-up Earps' desire to win it all.
Earps has been in talks with Manchester United for 18 months but a resolution appears to be far off.
If things remain as they are, Earps seems almost certain to leave the club.
That means Man Utd head of women's football Polly Bancroft and head coach Marc Skinner will have to decide whether to cash-in now or let Earps leave for free at the end of June.
It's a similar to the situation the club faced this time last year with Alessia Russo, now at Arsenal, and Ona Batlle, now at Barcelona.
There is, however, change coming to Manchester United with Sir Jim Ratcliffe's 25 per cent stake in the club meaning his group will run football operations.
A good way to confirm your commitment to the cause is paying Earps like the star she is and putting everything in place squad and infrastructure-wise to make Manchester United a true WSL and Champions League contender.
Arsenal pushed hard for Earps in the summer but didn't offer enough money to tempt Manchester United to sell to a rival.
They did show last January, however, that they are willing to offer big money to get targets mid-season when they put in a world record bid for impending free-agent Alessia Russo.
Arsenal successfully used that strategy to spend a club record to sign Kyra Cooney-Cross from Hammarby while other sides waited for her contract at Hammarby IF to expire.
With no Champions League football, Arsenal could decide to save the transfer fee but will then have to fight the world's elite in free agency.
The basic fact is that every player has a price, especially ones who can leave for nothing in a few months. Even ones playing for rivals.
If a player the calibre of Earps is available then the biggest clubs will be interested.
Earps has already played abroad, greatly enjoying a year at Wolfsburg earlier in her career.
European powerhouses Barcelona and Lyon will do their due diligence in the quests to sign the world's top stars, while NWSL clubs will be attracted to Earps' commercial power and fan engagement, as well as her undoubted skills on the pitch.
But clubs abroad can talk to Earps about a summer move in January, which means both Manchester United and Arsenal are on the clock if they want to get the signature of the FIFA Golden Glove winner.
Who will be on the move in the January window?
Opening on January 1 and closing at 11pm on February 1 in England and midnight in Scotland, keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports' digital platforms.
You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News, including daily transfer shows, and listen to our dedicated Transfer Talk podcast.