20200812 CSM Lekic
EHF Champions League

10 women making big moves in the top flight

EHF / Chris O'Reilly

We were spoiled by exciting news this spring and summer as a number of the world’s top handball players made power moves between the DELO EHF Champions League’s biggest clubs.

This is a tricky top 10, having left some big names out, and a risky ranking which not all will agree with – but we can all agree that these transfers will make the upcoming season a must-watch competition.

  1. Elena Mikhaylichenko (Lada to HC CSKA)

She is one of the hottest prospects in world handball and it will be a delight to see her play in the DELO EHF Champions League for the first time this season.

The Russian left back, who will turn 19 in September, had a breakout season at senior level, winning World Championship bronze in December, before winning EHF Player of the Month in January – thanks to 37 goals in four EHF Cup matches with Lada. Strong signing and a signal of intent from top-flight newcomers CSKA.

  1. Tjasa Stanko (HC Podravka Vegeta to Metz Handball)

The 2017/18 best young player of the EHF Champions League makes her second move in as many seasons and this is a big one.

At 22, Tjasa Stanko has already proven herself for club and country, but her move to Metz represents a whole new challenge as she will represent a true title contender. Metz coach Emmanuel Mayonnade does not mess around with signings and will undoubtedly relish the prospect of having his attack orchestrated by the smart and dangerous Slovenian playmaker.

  1. Emily Bölk (Thüringer HC to FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria)

Having truly come of age at last year’s World Championship in Japan, there was plenty of interest in where Emily Bölk would go next.

FTC would not have been many people’s first guess, but Hungary’s perennial bridesmaid may be the best fit for her right now. Chock-full of exciting young players and with a trio of Germans arriving, FTC feel like a club ready to break into the top four under the right conditions and Bölk has the potential to lead them if she settles in well.

  1. Xenia Smits (Metz Handball to SG BBM Bietigheim)

From one German star leaving home to another returning. Recovery from a severe shoulder injury meant Xenia Smits’ final season with Metz did not go to plan and a fresh start may be exactly what is needed.

Bietigheim have done some good business, bringing in the likes of Smits, Trine Østergaard, Stine Jørgensen and Emily Stang Sando. Although Smits and Jørgensen have had their injury worries, they could be a devastatingly good pair in the back court if all goes to plan.

  1. Grace Zaadi (Metz Handball to Rostov-Don)

A second Metz departure on the list, this time it’s French world and European champion Grace Zaadi, who makes the move to title rivals Rostov-Don.

A cunning playmaker with a strong on-court character, Zaadi should be entering into her peak years now. The prospect of her combining with Anna Vyakhireva is mouth-watering and is certain to provide us with some treats during the season.

  1. Alexandrina Cabral Barbosa (Nantes Handball to CSM Bucuresti)

What ranks this move so high is how necessary it was for CSM to acquire a player like this following the departure of Lekic and Mørk as well as the potential Alexandrina Cabral Barbosa possesses to rock any court she steps on.

At 34, the Spanish international still has the tools to turn a game on its head as she proved time and time again at last year’s World Championship. In Japan, she was the top scorer in almost all of Spain’s games en route to the final and was deservedly named in the all-star team. An exciting returnee to Europe’s premier club competition.

  1. Laura Glauser (Metz Handball to Györi Audi ETO KC)

Yet another Metz departure. Laura Glauser moves abroad for the first time in her career to the world’s best handball club. You could understand if there was some trepidation for Glauser, making this dream move on the back of an ACL injury, but the 26-year-old is certain to be well taken care of among a brilliant goalkeeper trio and a strong French contingent at the club.

With Kari Aalvik Grimsbø and Éva Kiss retiring over the summer, Györ needed to work hard to replace those names in goal and they have done that and then some. Glauser and Silje Solberg are exceptional signings and combined with Amandine Leynaud make for the best goalkeeper set up in the competition.

  1. Andrea Lekic (CSM Bucuresti to Buducnost)

One of the most consistently brilliant playmakers of the past decade continues her tour of Europe’s great clubs with a move to Montenegro. Alongside Allison Pineau, another new arrival, the 32-year-old Serbian will lead the line in attack for a club climbing its way back up their European ladder.

Lekic’s new side will be among the favourites in group B and she is fully aware of the culture she is joining once she arrives in Podgorica.

“I have played against them for many years, so know their system and I hope I will adapt well there. I am expecting great results because expectations have to be high. I think it is the right move. Playing for Buducnost and wearing the jersey means you need to fight like a lion there.”

  1. Lois Abbingh (Rostov-Don to Odense Håndbold)

Following a frustrating first half of last season, Lois Abbingh showed us all what Rostov-Don were missing when she blasted in 71 goals and helped lead the Netherlands to their first World Championship gold last December. A big move was always on the cards from then and finally, it was Odense who did very well to snap up the 27-year-old left back.

In some people’s eyes, she is the top transfer and given her recent form she would safely be the number 1 move if it were not for the final name on this list.

  1. Nora Mørk (CSM Bucuresti to Vipers Kristiansand)

This is not a guaranteed number 1 transfer, but it sure has the potential to be. Few players have captured the handball world’s imagination quite like Nora Mørk at her peak and that is what Vipers Kristiansand will be praying to see this season.

Despite the primary reason for her return to Norway being a sad family situation, Nora Mørk has reaffirmed her desire to compete for titles. The 29-year-old must yet again prove her fitness and ability at a competitive level after her 10th knee surgery, but joining a club like Vipers could be the perfect move for the right back and if the stars align, Vipers may be well-placed to strike in Europe’s top flight.

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