Portland/ Sports
AI Assisted Icon
Published on February 20, 2024
Portland Thorns FC Strengthens Defense, Acquiring Nigerian Star Nicole Payne on Loan from PSGSource: Ray Terrill, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Portland Thorns FC has upped their defensive game by securing Nigerian international Nicole Payne on a season-long loan from French heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain, the club confirmed Monday. Payne, who has found playing time hard to come by since making the move to PSG in July 2023, will now look to solidify her standing on the pitch in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), as reported by Timbers.com.

Despite having only appeared in two matches for PSG, the 23-year-old defender is set to quickly change the script at Thorns. "She is a young and dynamic defender, who has the ability to impact the game on both sides of the ball," General Manager and President of Soccer Operations Karina LeBlanc told Complete Sports. To quickly adapt and to settle in, Payne's challenge will be to make a substantial impact in a league where several of her national teammates, including stars like Asisat Oshoala, also showcase their talents, according to NotJustOK.com.

LeBlanc detailed the club's enthusiasm over Payne's loan, highlighting her desire to represent Portland. "Her desire to represent this city and this crest is what we want from any new signing. When presented with this opportunity, she welcomed it with open arms," she said in a statement obtained by Complete Sports. The Thorns are adding a player whose collegiate career, first at West Virginia University and then at the University of Southern California, showcased a blend of defensive solidity and attacking potential.

Looking ahead, Head Coach Mike Norris is optimistic about the attributes Payne brings to the team. "Nicole is an exciting addition to our roster, she is a defender first and foremost, but also has an incredible drive and desire to get forward and impact the game higher up the field," Norris conveyed to Complete Sports. The Thorns tactician is keen to see her become a very exciting asset for the team, bringing the promise of agility and an aggressive approach to the Oregon-based club.

As the Thorns look ahead to the new season, fans will have their eyes on Payne to see if the American-born defender can translate her international and collegiate experience onto the NWSL fields, igniting fresh energy into the Portland squad and further cementing her name in professional women's soccer. Nicole Payne's journey is just another reminder of the increasingly global dimensions of women's soccer, as players move across leagues and continents to fiercely compete at the highest levels.