Emma Hayes will leave an indelible legacy on women’s football when she leaves Chelsea at the end of the season, Arsenal manager Jonas Eidevall said.
Hayes, according to Telegraph Sport sources, is on the verge of being appointed as the new head coach of the United States women’s national team, having agreed to take over the four-time world champions, who also want to recruit her assistant, Denise Reddy.
Chelsea fans were left stunned on Saturday when the club announced Hayes will leave next summer, shortly after their emphatic 6-0 away victory over Aston Villa. The Chelsea players are understood to have learnt of the news in the dressing room moments after the win.
Eidevall, who has been battling against Hayes as managerial rivals since he took the Arsenal job in the summer of 2021, joked that he hoped her final season would end badly, and wished her well for the future.
“There’s no doubt that she will leave a legacy at Chelsea. I think it’s a legacy that all football managers would be very proud of leaving. She should be very proud of that,” Eidevall said following his side’s 2-1 victory over Manchester City.
“One, I think me and all other managers are going to try and make life in the WSL as difficult for her as possible before she leaves, and after that, she’s going to be one of the first ones after the season that I might pick up the phone and give a call to, because I do think she has some really interesting ideas about football and how to build a football team.
“And once you’re not direct rivals, I would love to spend a little bit of time with her, listening to her experiences at Chelsea, but that phone call has to wait and we have to remain competitors. Hopefully she ends in a really bad way at Chelsea [laughs] but that’s not going to ruin her legacy anyway for that. And then best of luck for everything.”
Hayes has won a record six WSL titles in her 11 years at Chelsea, including the last four in a row.
“She’s had a long period at Chelsea and I can imagine she’s thinking, ‘What’s next?’” Manchester City head coach Gareth Taylor said. “It’s quite early [in the season], that’s probably what took everyone by surprise. I was probably a little bit surprised, like everyone else was.”
Hayes will be hoping to end her tenure with a fifth consecutive championship in May and her side are top of the table, helped by early season pacesetters Manchester City’s loss at Arsenal.
Taylor’s side were caught out when 19-year-old goalkeeper Khiara Keating completely misjudged the flight of Katie McCabe’s long, bouncing ball and the teenager’s error allowed Stina Blackstenius to slot in an 87th-minute winner.