England’s World Cup campaign comes to a close on Saturday as they lost to Sweden in the third place play off.

The Lionesses campaign ended earlier than many would have hoped, with the aim being to be playing in the World Cup final, but Phil Neville’s side have taken further steps in their journey of progression.

On the international stage, the next step is the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo before the 2021 European Championships, which will be held in England, but for many the end of the tournament marks the start of a new journey.

Nikita Parris is heading to Lyon, Ellen White is joining Manchester City and Karen Carney has announced her retirement – while Toni Duggan has confirmed she is leaving Barcelona after two seasons in Spain.

“I feel the time is right for me to pursue a new challenge. To represent one of the biggest and most special clubs in the world has been a huge honour,” the former Manchester City star said.

 

Duggan has not spoken about her next destination but the lists of clubs in Europe who could afford or accommodate the 27-year-old is small, especially considering Lyon are well-stocked in the final third following the capture of Parris.

BBC Sport state interest in Duggan is high, with clubs in Germany and Italy among those eyeing a move for the experienced forward, but a return to England cannot be ruled out.

The key to Duggan’s next step in her career depends on what assurances she is seeking and whether she is chasing a move to a club that can offer Champions League football, where he suffered defeat against Lyon last season.

 

If continental football is not on the cards, then newly-promoted Manchester United could be the ideal destination for Duggan as she would become the experienced face of Casey Stoney’s young, exciting squad.

United will play in the top-tier next season after winning the Championship in their inaugural campaign next term but the season ahead is set to be fiercely competitive up against the likes of double-winners Manchester City, defending league champions Arsenal and Emma Hayes’ Chelsea.

If United are to compete, then signings of Duggan’s calibre need to be made – which Stoney has already started, securing a deal for World Cup finalist Jackie Groenen prior to the World Cup.

 

With her prime years ahead of her, Duggan can be the catalyst to propel United’s women’s team to the status they want to be and her reputation is second to none.

Duggan would certainly be a high-profile capture for one of the WSL’s latest clubs and would add another big name to a glittering CV that has already seen win titles with Man City, Barcelona and England.

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