Though the Washington Spirit haven't officially announced Estefania Banini's departure from the club, the signs are pointing to the Argentine playmaker not playing with the Spirit in 2017. Yesterday, Spanish club Valencia CF announced they had signed Banini. The Spirit have not announced the move yet, but a team spokesperson has said that while the official paperwork hasn't been finalized, Banini's move to the Spanish league is in the process of being completed.
While several Spirit players will be playing elsewhere on loan, the Spanish league is active into May (well after the NWSL kicks off). Social media posts from Banini suggest that the Spirit's leading scorer from this past season has moved on.
Muy contenta por este nuevo paso en mi carrera. Agradecida del @washingtonspirit por las dos temporadas pasadas. Ahora es momento de @valenciafemenino @valenciacf. Re feliz con el recibimiento del club y su gente. Espero poder conseguir cosas importantes con el equipo. #Valencia #ValenciaCF #amuntvalencia #soccer #futbol #instasoccer #futfem #futfemenino #futbolfemenino #gracias #fe
Banini's caption reads: "I'm very happy with this new step in my career. I'm grateful to the Spirit for the past two seasons. Now is the time of Valencia. I'm happy with the reception from the club and its fans. I hope to achieve important things with the team."
After arriving in 2015, Banini started in four games only to suffer a torn ACL. She recovered from that in time to start the 2016 season, but only became a regular in the lineup in mid-June. That proved to be good timing, as Banini ended up carrying the Spirit attack in the Olympic-enforced absence of Crystal Dunn and Diana Matheson. Banini scored four goals en route to being named the NWSL player of the month for July. Banini missed the final five games of the regular season due to knee surgery, but returned in time to start both playoff games.
Expect more news in the next day or two as the NWSL offseason kicks into gear.