Sam Kerr captained Australia at the Women’s World Cup this summer

Australia striker Sam Kerr, widely regarded as one of the best strikers in the world, has joined Women’s Super League leaders Chelsea.

She is the all-time leading scorer in the Australian and American leagues.

Kerr, 26, has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal and is available for the second half of the season from January.

“The fact she chose Chelsea when she could have gone to any club in the world is a testament to the players and the staff here,” said boss Emma Hayes.

Former Chicago Red Stars and Perth Glory player Kerr scored five goals at the World Cup this summer, leading Australia to the last 16.

Kerr said: “The WSL is the best league in Europe. I want team success and I don’t want it to come easy.

“I feel Chelsea have been building something special over the years and I want to be a part of that – I want to lift some trophies.”

Chelsea fought off interest from a number of top European clubs including six-time Champions League winners Lyon, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

Kerr could have earned more money elsewhere but the opportunity to work with Hayes and live in London, where she has family connections, are among the reasons she opted for Chelsea.

She also wanted to end the cycle of playing in the NWSL and W-League back-to-back, as she has done in the past few seasons.

“Sam has proved time and time again in the NWSL that she is a prolific goalscorer,” Hayes added. “She’s won the golden boot many times and she’s a player that can make things happen, but she’s also a fantastic team player.

“She saw this as the best place for her to grow and take the next step in her career. That’s a wonderful compliment to us all.”

Kerr is the ninth player from Australia to play in England, following the likes of Emily Gielnik (Liverpool), Tanya Oxtoby (Doncaster Belles) and Caitlin Friend (Notts County).

On Monday, Australia’s Optus Sport signed a three-year deal

Sam Kerr’s stats for Chicago Red Stars