“Haley is one of the best young talents in the world and we are absolutely thrilled to join her club,” Pride General Manager Ian Fleming said in a club press release. “She has already shown her quality at a high level in Italy and at an international level with Malta, and is still only scratching the face of the player that can be made. It is a constant threat to opposing defenses and will be a valuable addition to our group, both in the immediate and moving forward, as we continue to build and strengthen our roster. We are all very excited to see her in Orlando, as a member of our Pride, soon. ”
Before moving to Serie A, Bugeja played for Mgarr United FC in her home country. She quickly became one of the best players in Malta, Bugeja scored 23 goals in the 2019-2020 season, her last year before she went to Italy.
Bugeja made his Serie A debut at the age of 16, with a good shot in his first game against Napoli and finished the year with 12 goals. Her first season saw the striker finish in the top five in the Serie A scorer and was named the Best Young Player in Serie A for the 2020-2021 season. In total, Bugeja scored a total of 15 goals in 36 games for Sassuolo before suffering an injury that required a five-month recovery. She returned to action in October.
Internationally, Bugeja has represented Malta 14 times at senior level and has recently been involved in her national team’s UEFA European qualification campaign. She made her 14-year-old international debut in 2019 and scored her first goal for her country the following year against Turkey.
The youngster has been one of the best European players you will see since she made her debut two years ago. She was listed number three on GOAL.com’s “NXGN 2022: The Top 20 Wonderkids in Women’s Football” – its second consecutive year on that list – and was number 15 on ESPN’s 21st Best Women’s Player Under 21.
What It Means For Orlando
The Pride has seen a lot more downsizing than an increase in the team over the past year. During this recent off-season, the team has negotiated forwards Jodie Taylor, Alex Morgan, and Taylor Kornieck. Sydney Leroux was negotiated last week with Angel City, causing a further slowdown in attack.
As Pride are rebuilding, they are more likely to acquire younger players who have a future with the club. At 18, Bugeja is the kind of signature you would expect. While the signing is only for a year and a half, the striker has recently recovered from a serious injury so the club can extend the contract if he performs as he has done before in his career.
The addition of a striker who can score will help Pride as they continue this season. The top two scorers on the team are Darian Jenkins and Gunny Jonsdottir, with three goals each. However, Jonsdottir is naturally a defensive midfielder who has been pushed forward to help with the attack. Besides Jenkins, Leroux and Leah Pruitt are the only two strikers to have scored this season, with Leroux scoring twice and Pruitt once.
Bugeja is expected to be available for Pride over the next month. She will be competing for time with current strikers Pruitt, Julie Doyle, and Abi Kim for game time.
Here are some key points of what Bugeja can provide: