Ji So-yun to leave Chelsea at end of season
LONDON — After eight years as one of the Super League club’s top players, Korean midfielder Ji So-yun announced Friday she plans to leave Chelsea at the end of the 2021-22 season.
Ji will stay with the Blues through the end of the season as the club battle with Arsenal for the Super League title and face Manchester City in the FA Cup final on May 15.
Once the season ends, Ji plans to move back to Korea for the first time since she graduated university. She has played her entire professional career overseas, in Japan and Britain.
Ji, now 31, debuted with Chelsea in 2014 and went on to win both Player of the Year and PFA Players' Player of the Year.
She has made over 200 appearances for the London club, scoring 68 goals across all competitions with 37 in the Super League. Ji is tied for fifth in the all-time ranking for assists in the Super League, at 29.
Over those eight years, she has won five Super League titles, three FA Cups, one community shield and two Continental Cups. She was the first non-British player to pass 100 and 200 Super League appearances.
In a video released this week to mark Ji’s contribution to the club, the Korean international discussed how much the team has developed over the last eight years and how proud she was to be part of it, saying: “Once a blue, always a blue.”
Manager Emma Hayes also reflected on Ji’s contribution to the club.
“What an honour and a privilege it's been to coach one of the most amazing players the [Super League] has ever seen,” Hayes said. “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."
The club plans to honor Ji at the last game of the season on May 8.
As well as her contributions to Chelsea, Ji is also one of the most important players in Korean international football.
Ji debuted on the national team at only 15-years-old to become the youngest-ever Taeguk Lady, and has now scored 64 goals for the national team, making her Korea's all-time leading goal scorer across all teams, all divisions, all genders and all competitions earlier this year, overtaking Korean football legend Cha Bum-kun's record with 59 goals.
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]