May 27, 2024

Ilfa Sprot

The finest in sport

The 50 greatest footballers on the planet at this time

28 min read
The 50 greatest footballers on the planet at this time

What a yr for ladies’s soccer.

It is laborious to look previous the achievements of Barcelona. They set the sport’s attendance file, drawing 91,648 to the Camp Nou for a European tie towards Wolfsburg. They received Spain’s Primera Division Femenina by profitable 30 video games within the 30-game season. They made it a home double by including the Copa del Reina, profitable six of six in that competitors. They usually handled us to some of the entertaining and unpredictable Champions League finals you will ever see.

Sadly for the Blaugrana, it will not remembered fondly within the Catalan capital. That is as a result of Lyon, winners of six of the earlier seven European Cup finals, sprang a shock by upsetting their closely favored opponents.

The headlines weren’t all optimistic. Within the Nationwide Ladies’s Soccer League (NWSL), it has been a yr of reckoning. Of the ten groups that participated within the 2021 season, eight have been roiled by allegations of sexual misconduct, verbal and emotional abuse, harassment and retaliation — all previously 12 months.

There have been victories that had been bigger than the sport, too. U.S. Soccer agreed collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) with the USA males’s and United States girls’s nationwide groups that for the primary time embody equal pay.

And 2022 stands to get higher. In lower than every week, some of the thrilling months in girls’s soccer will start. July will mark the beginning of the Africa Ladies Cup of Nations, the CONCACAF W Championship, the Oceania Ladies’s Nations Cup, the Ladies’s European Championship and the Copa America Femenina.

To mark a yr of feat we current ESPN FC Ladies’s Rank 2022. This spring, we polled 26 of the brightest minds in girls’s soccer — from coaches to executives to journalists — about their standout performers throughout the 2021-22 season, and we arrived on the definitive rating of the highest 50 girls’s gamers in 2022.

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This yr’s voting panel contains: former USWNT captain Julie Foudy, USWNT supervisor Vlatko Andonovski, Netherlands girls’s supervisor Mark Parsons, NJ/NY Gotham FC GM Yael Averbuch, director of ladies’s soccer for the Swiss FA Tatjana Haenni, former Republic of Eire goalkeeper Emma Byrne, former Australia worldwide Alicia Ferguson, former member of the FIFA Council Moya Dodd, Orlando Satisfaction supervisor Amanda Cromwell (voted earlier than she was positioned on administrative depart by her membership), ESPN editor Caitlin Murray, ESPN commentator Sebastian Salazar, ESPN commentator Cristina Alexander, ESPN contributor Jeff Kassouf, ESPN editor Lindsay du Plessis, ESPN contributor Sophie Lawson, BBC journalist Jo Currie, Telegraph journalist Tom Garry, ESPN contributor Marissa Lordanic, Australian Related Press journalist Anna Harrington, Past 90 co-founder Cheryl Downes, ESPN contributor Cesar Hernandez, Mexican Soccer Present podcast host Amelia Lopez, Globo Esporte producer Cintia Barlem and girls’s soccer journalist Romain Balland.

It ought to come as no shock, contemplating how this introduction began, that Barcelona are properly represented on the high of the order. There isn’t any scarcity of illustration from Lyon, both.

One attention-grabbing improvement got here on the sharp finish of the order, the place gamers ranked Nos. 1 and a couple of acquired 20 of 26 first-place votes. Curiously, the participant who completed second within the voting acquired probably the most first-place votes, however our winner constantly completed greater on our voters’ ballots.

Maybe probably the most noticeable development to emerge after all of the ballots had been counted was the decline of American gamers. Final yr’s version featured 11 members of the USWNT, together with our No. 1 and three within the high 10. This yr, that quantity is down to 6, with only one making our high 10. Does that replicate a fading footballing energy, or a extra worldwide voter panel?

With out additional ado: These are the 50 greatest gamers in girls’s soccer at this time.

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Sophie Lawson reveals the league she thinks is pulling in one of the best girls’s expertise from around the globe.


Nation: Netherlands
Membership: Wolfsburg
Age: 25
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: Not ranked

After two years, Roord returned to German pitches, and there may be nothing the midfielder may have completed higher. Wolfsburg’s fashion, the position she suits into and the way usually she will be in entrance of the aim make Roord the right attacking midfielder. She has turn into a participant who can rating within the greatest matches, with the pliability of enjoying wherever in midfield or assault, and he or she is just not afraid of the stress to attain in entrance of 90,000 spectators at Camp Nou. — Sjors Grol


Nation: Canada
Membership: Portland Thorns
Age: 39
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: Not ranked

Sinclair led Canada to a shiny gold medal within the Tokyo Olympics final summer season. She extra lately scored her 189th aim for Canada in her 310th look. The 39-year-old ahead additionally reached 150 video games in her NWSL profession sporting the Portland Thorns jersey with satisfaction. — Cristina Alexander


Nation: Australia
Membership: Arsenal
Age: 27
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: Not ranked

Foord’s second half of the season for Arsenal was nothing wanting glorious. Whereas her manufacturing was down on final season’s efforts, her affect was plain. There have been shifting components round her up entrance for the Gunners, however Foord was a continuing presence and menace. With 4 targets and three assists from 16 appearances, the Matildas ahead made positive she could not be ignored. Whereas her work at nationwide crew stage typically will get overshadowed by Sam Kerr, Foord is an integral attacking choice in her personal proper. — Marissa Lordanic


Nation: England
Membership: Arsenal
Age: 25
Place: Defender
2021 Rank: Not ranked

To be Williamson on this second is to hold a heavy burden. After a stellar season for Arsenal, she’s going to succeed the indomitable Steph Houghton as England captain for this summer season’s Euros. It is a activity she has welcomed, the spotlight of her profession. A flexible participant — she primarily performs protection for Arsenal however instructions the sector as a defensive midfielder for England — she is poised to showcase capabilities as a participant and a frontrunner on the worldwide stage this summer season. — Connor O’Halloran


Nation: Germany
Membership: Bayern Munich
Age: 24
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: Not ranked

Schuller is the reigning Germany Participant of the 12 months and one of many abilities they hope will finish their big-tournament unhealthy luck streak at this summer season’s European Championship. In 2021, she scored 1 / 4 of all of Germany’s targets. The Bayern Munich striker additionally topped the Frauen Bundesliga scoring chart with 16 targets. — Kathleen McNamee


Nation: Germany
Membership: Wolfsburg
Age: 25
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: Not ranked

An completed aim scorer with Hoffenheim earlier than making the swap to Wolfsburg forward of the season, Wassmuth received the prospect to impress within the Ladies’s Champions League within the 2021-22 marketing campaign. Needing slightly further time to settle into the new-look Wolfsburg crew, she discovered her greatest early kind in European competitors, the place she tallied 10 targets throughout 11 matches, seven of which got here towards English opposition. With a blistering flip of tempo, Wassmuth has rounded out her sport since shifting to Decrease Saxony however stands out for her targets; her 13 for the She Wolves within the Frauen Bundesliga season was the second-best tally (tied with Selina Cerci) within the league. — Sophie Lawson


Nation: Wales
Membership: OL Reign
Age: 35
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: Not ranked

Fishlock continued to indicate the category and tenacity which have made her a fan favourite for years — the form of participant you’d like to have in your crew. However the magic of Fishlock is not solely her audacious long-range pictures and talent to hit the ball on a dime, it is the doggedness and work charge. In what was a powerful NWSL marketing campaign, her 2021 MVP award was a testomony to her work within the season in addition to a nod to just about 10 years of highlights. — Marissa Lordanic


Nation: Nigeria
Membership: Barcelona
Age: 27
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: 27

Oshoala is considered certainly one of Africa’s best gamers due to her velocity, energy on the ball and prolific scoring charge. A four-time African girls’s participant of the yr, she was the main scorer in Spain’s high flight this previous season with 20 targets, regardless of spending two months out injured, and led Barcelona to yet one more home double. Nigeria’s Tremendous Falcons had a lean patch so far as fixtures go this previous yr, however Oshoala managed 4 worldwide targets and can intention so as to add extra on the Africa Ladies Cup of Nations. — Lindsay du Plessis


Nation: Scotland
Membership: Free agent
Age: 26
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: 25

After 4 glittering years at Manchester Metropolis, throughout which she was twice nominated for the FIFA Puskas Award, the Scotland worldwide is a free agent. The Telegraph reported final month that she is about to hitch Spanish giants Actual Madrid. Whichever membership she indicators for will probably be getting some of the entertaining gamers in world soccer, somebody who can hearth a strike from vary simply as simply as she will be able to ship a gently chipped shot. — Connor O’Halloran


Nation: France
Membership: Lyon
Age: 25
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: 21

Cascarino has dropped 20 locations from final yr’s rankings, however that’s probably extra a illustration of how good she was in 2020 than a touch upon her performances this yr. She was the quickest participant on file within the Champions League and it was her assaults from down the wings that gave gamers like Ada Hegerberg, Catarina Macario and Melvine Malard the service they wanted to shine. Her dribbling is second to none, as is her decision-making. On this spring’s UWCL remaining, she was explosive within the counterattack towards Barcelona, who had little response to her velocity. She deserved a aim from her tight effort after the 50-minute mark for the shift she put in. — Kathleen McNamee


Nation: Italy
Membership: Juventus
Age: 31
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: Not ranked

Regardless of her prolonged damage historical past, she remains to be ranked third in all-time appearances for Juventus, her dedication to the membership incomes her a brand new contract in Might. She was additionally inducted into Italy’s soccer corridor of fame on the finish of this season for her pioneering position main girls’s soccer within the nation. — Kathleen McNamee


Nation: Germany
Membership: Lyon
Age: 27
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: Not ranked

Dabritz will play for European champions Lyon subsequent season after shifting from Paris Saint-Germain, the place she had performed since 2019. With PSG this previous season she received the Coup de France Feminin and completed runners-up to Lyon for the league title. She scored eight league targets with 9 assists, whereas within the Champions League she bagged a aim and 4 assists as PSG fell to her new membership within the semifinals. With solely three worldwide appearances in 2022, Dabritz will hope to impress for Die Nationalelf on the Ladies’s Euros. — Lindsay du Plessis


Nation: England
Membership: Chelsea
Age: 28
Place: Defender
2021 Rank: Not ranked

After Magdalena Eriksson suffered an ankle damage in December, Chelsea had to determine who would assist fill the hole vacated by their stalwart Swedish captain. Who was going to guide this dynasty within the interim? Effectively, it was Vibrant who stepped ahead, guiding Chelsea to a formidable profitable streak and a 3rd consecutive Ladies’s Tremendous League (WSL) title. Her presence in protection is intimidating and invaluable, and her expertise at one of many sport’s greatest golf equipment will serve to settle English nerves as they bid to ship on lofty expectations this summer season. — Connor O’Halloran


Nation: United States
Membership: Kansas Metropolis Present
Age: 29
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: 1

Going from No. 1 in 2021 to No. 37 is a substantial drop, however it may be largely defined by damage. Mewis underwent knee surgical procedure final August, and was meant to overlook simply six to eight weeks, however the 29-year-old will miss the CONCACAF W Championship whereas she continues her restoration. She has performed simply 135 minutes since her operation 10 months in the past. As soon as she returns to health, although, her intensive expertise — 92 video games within the NWSL and 21 targets — will go a protracted approach to lifting the Present from their place close to the underside of the desk. — Cristina Alexander

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Kathleen McNamee tells Sebastian Salazar why just one U.S. participant made the highest 10 within the ESPN FC Ladies’s Rank.


Nation: United States
Membership: San Diego Wave
Age: 32
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: 38

There’s all the time loads to say in regards to the USWNT co-captain. Morgan returned to the West Coast to hitch the most recent NWSL franchise, the San Diego Wave, and has been killing it ever since. Scoring 15 targets in 16 video games means that the 32-year-old is feeling at residence together with her California crew. She additionally secured a spot within the nationwide crew to pursue yet one more World Cup and Olympics bid within the CONCACAF W Championship this summer season. — Cristina Alexander


Nation: France
Membership: Paris Saint-Germain
Age: 27
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: 36

An unpredictable attacker who refuses to be pushed off the ball, “Kady” Diani varieties a 3rd of PSG’s formidable assault with Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Sandy Baltimore, the 27-year-old often discovered on the proper facet of the entrance three. With velocity to burn, Diani’s agility separates her from others in her place, as she fortunately weaves round defenders, turning them inside out with out relinquishing the ball, or as teammate Sakina Karchaoui says, she is “sturdy.” An everyday for Corinne Diacre’s France, Diani stays one of many extra artistic shops within the crew, not fairly scoring with the identical regularity for her nationwide facet as her membership crew, however she is bound to please on the Euros. — Sophie Lawson


Nation: Canada
Membership: Chelsea
Age: 24
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: Not ranked

A midfielder with the instincts of an attacker, Fleming’s adaptability is simply one of many strings on her completed bow. With one other WSL title and two FA Cups within the locker for the league season, Fleming additionally demonstrated her significance for Canada ultimately summer season’s Tokyo Olympics. The crew’s perennial No. 17 was available to transform penalties in each the semi and remaining in Japan, her calmness beneath intense stress a marker of her sport, the studious participant a pure chief on the pitch. — Sophie Lawson


Nation: United States
Membership: Washington Spirit
Age: 20
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: Not ranked

After one full yr as knowledgeable, Rodman has proved to be some of the thrilling younger prospects within the sport wherever. Her velocity and depth are instantly apparent, however she’s at her greatest when she is not predictable and simply tries stuff.

Because the league chief in assists, she led the Washington Spirit to a championship final fall and was named the NWSL’s Rookie of the 12 months. The Spirit as such locked her in with a four-year contract that made her the NWSL’s highest-paid participant, and he or she topped ESPN’s rating of the highest U21 prospects within the sport. Her well-known father, Basketball Corridor of Fame Dennis Rodman, nonetheless tends to get talked about alongside her, however as of late it is solely to level out that Trinity is chopping by the hype and making a reputation for herself. — Caitlin Murray


Nation: Sweden
Membership: Barcelona
Age: 28
Place: Defender
2021 Rank: Not ranked

When Barca signed Rolfo from Wolfsburg, few anticipated to see her at left-back in a Champions League remaining. Maybe it is disingenuous to name her a left-back, given she managed 12 targets and 17 assists throughout the league and the Champions League, however that’s the place she seems on the crew sheet in Jonatan Giraldez’s 4-3-3 formation. It has added one other dimension to Barca’s sport to have the Sweden worldwide surging down the wing, permitting the ahead forward of her to occupy the half area inside and creating all types of issues for opponents. She has proved one of many signings of the season. — Sam Marsden


Nation: England
Membership: Barcelona
Age: 30
Place: Defender
2021 Rank: 5

This rating nearly appears harsh. There’s a motive Barcelona signed Bronze, the 2020 FIFA The Finest award winner. Her pedigree is unrivalled within the English sport, and her drop in our rankings, from No. 5 to No. 31, will be defined by her lack of soccer within the first half of final season as she recovered from a fifth profession knee operation. Anticipated again for Euro 2022 and with the Camp Nou awaiting her arrival, she’s received each likelihood of returning to her former glory in 2023. — Connor O’Halloran


Nation: Scotland
Membership: Arsenal
Age: 31
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: 39

Little’s current mortgage transfer from Arsenal to NWSL facet OL Reign will reunite her together with her former Seattle membership, and Reign followers will hope she brings her WSL kind together with her, having helped push Chelsea to the restrict in a title race that went all the way down to the ultimate day. Little, who retired from worldwide soccer in 2021, was named within the PFA WSL crew of the yr after her six targets for the Gunners through the league season. Nobody above her on the scoring charts had a greater shot-to-goal conversion charge, as she netted 77{cf07cd047201b183b19c0b335dbd7d35a498f84568531c8abe8643bd3ccfd494} of her makes an attempt. — Lindsay du Plessis


Nation: France
Membership: Lyon
Age: 32
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: 16

The 2021-22 season will all the time be remembered for the unimaginable long-range aim Henry scored within the Champions League remaining to open the scoring for Lyon towards Barcelona. It capped a season wherein the 32-year-old received again to her greatest, regardless of dropping her place within the France squad. She confirmed she may clearly nonetheless ship regardless of being written off by the likes of France supervisor Corinne Diacre. — Julien Laurens


Nation: Canada
Membership: Paris Saint-Germain
Age: 27
Place: Defender
2021 Rank: Not ranked

Six years with PSG, 9 with the highly effective Canadian nationwide crew — Lawrence’s sensible profession speaks for itself. The complete-back is a constant starter in Paris, the place she received the French Cup for the second time in her profession. The 27-year-old has additionally been crucial to the capital membership’s valiant efforts to reel in Lyon within the league, profitable the 2020-21 title and securing a runner-up end this season. — Cristina Alexander


Nation: Australia
Membership: Lyon
Age: 22
Place: Defender
2021 Rank: Not ranked

If Sam Kerr is the primary identify on any Australian crew sheet, Carpenter’s is second. The 22-year-old has proved to be invaluable and irrepressible, although Lyon and the Matildas will probably be hoping she is not irreplaceable after the full-back suffered an ACL damage within the UEFA Ladies’s Champions League remaining. Carpenter is the right archetype of the fashionable full-back: lightning velocity, defensive solidity and an insatiable want to assault. The 2-time Ladies’s Champions League winner will probably be seeking to return to her greatest for the World Cup on residence soil in 2023. — Marissa Lordanic


Nation: Canada
Membership: Chelsea
Age: 26
Place: Defender
2021 Rank: 33

An Olympic gold medal winner with nation and a UEFA Ladies’s Champions League winner with membership, Buchanan’s season can solely actually be summed up as golden. She performed each second of Canada’s historic gold-medal run at Tokyo 2020, partnering Shelina Zadorsky and Vanessa Gilles within the coronary heart of protection. She was simply as essential for Lyon because the powerhouse membership returned to the summit of each French and European soccer. A superb defender cannot be understated, particularly now when the main focus is so usually on midfield maestros and aim tallies, and that is precisely what Buchanan is. — Marissa Lordanic


Nation: South Korea
Membership: Suwon FC
Age: 31
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: 18

The information that Ji was leaving Chelsea to return residence was met with disappointment from followers throughout the Ladies’s Tremendous League. When you won’t have wished to see her dancing by your facet’s protection, watching Ji was all the time an absolute pleasure.

A midfield maestro, she was usually pulling the strings to ensure the Chelsea machine hummed its good rhythm. Neglected at occasions for simply how good she is, she has given Chelsea eight of her greatest years. Emma Hayes has even stated if it was in her management, she would give her “magician” a statue. She has helped Chelsea to every of their 11 main trophies through the WSL period, and whereas Erin Cuthbert is seen as a worthy future to their midfield, it is laborious to see how they will not miss Ji this coming season. — Kathleen McNamee


Nation: Spain
Membership: Barcelona
Age: 24
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: Not ranked

Guijarro is maybe probably the most underrated participant in Barcelona’s facet, though recognition for her significance is rising. On the base of the midfield, her first activity is to interrupt up play and begin assaults, however she has a superb eye for a move and is more and more contributing within the remaining third. She nearly scored the aim of the season within the Champions League remaining, hitting the bar from the midway line. — Sam Marsden


Nation: Sweden
Membership: Arsenal
Age: 26
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: Not ranked

Arsenal managed to see off a number of opponents to the signing of Blackstenius in January as they introduced her to the WSL on a free switch from Sweden’s BK Hacken. The Swedish striker has since shaped a seamless partnership with Vivianne Miedema up entrance to determine themselves as some of the ruthless duos in world membership soccer.

She arrived at Arsenal on the flip of the yr having completed high scorer within the Swedish high flight with 17 in 21 final time period. The Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall was delighted to safe what he labelled a “world-class expertise” and it is clear to see why from her exploits for Sweden. She was integral to their silver medals at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, the place in Japan she scored two key targets towards the USWNT and one towards Canada within the remaining. She has garnered a repute for with the ability to break by high-pressing defenses by her personal tough and deft footwork. Followers of Sweden and Arsenal will probably be vastly grateful she ended up following her soccer goals, as a substitute of pursuing a profession in handball — a sport she was equally adept at and performed till she was 17 years previous. — Tom Hamilton


Nation: United States
Membership: Lyon
Age: 28
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: 23

With a sport as well-rounded as Horan’s, it is can typically really feel inadequate to label her as a mere box-to-box midfielder. She’s a ball winner, transition stopper, aim scorer, likelihood creator and hard tackler all rolled into one. That may typically be a blessing and a curse: when her crew is not clicking, she will be able to attempt to do all the things herself, partially as a result of she will be able to do all the things herself. However since arriving in France in January, she’s usually been the glue to maintain the midfield intact so Lyon’s different star gamers can go for it. — Caitlin Murray

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1:43

Kathleen McNamee and Sophie Lawson make their predictions for gamers to take the ESPN FC Ladies’s Rank by storm in 2023.


Nation: Brazil
Membership: North Carolina Braveness
Age: 30
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: 10

Debinha does all of it: scary expertise, fancy footwork, dizzying dribbling. The Brazilian ahead added one other MVP award to her listing of achievements, this time on this spring’s NWSL Problem Cup, the place she notched a five-match scoring streak alongside the best way to serving to the North Carolina Braveness to their first title within the competitors. There isn’t any relaxation for the 30-year-old, who has logged a complete of 5,226 minutes over the course of a world profession that has seen her capped 119 occasions, sixth most in Brazil’s historical past. — Cristina Alexander


Nation: England
Membership: Arsenal
Age: 27
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: Not ranked

Mead has had a turbulent 12 months. She suffered the brutal disappointment of lacking out on a spot in Crew GB’s Olympics crew, however channeled that into enjoying a few of her greatest soccer so far for Arsenal and England throughout the 2021-22 marketing campaign. She was bizarrely left off the PFA Participant of the 12 months shortlist regardless of ending the season with eight assists — the joint most within the WSL — and 14 targets within the league for Arsenal, however she did scoop the membership’s Participant of the Season award (no imply feat when you will have Vivianne Miedema for a teammate).

Mead can play in any of the entrance three positions and is as equally adept from lengthy distance as she is within the six-yard field. Her packed spotlight reel contains some gorgeous free kicks and long-range strikes — like her thunderbolt towards Aston Villa in Might — however preserve an eye fixed out for her extra nuanced work. She has this capability to pluck out teammates with completely weighted, bisecting crosses whereas she additionally causes defenses to backpedal together with her mazy runs that often find yourself with an unstoppable shot to the far submit. — Tom Hamilton


Nation: United States
Membership: OL Reign
Age: 27
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: 15

Lavelle has slipped 4 spots from final yr’s listing, however she is arguably enjoying higher soccer now. That is as a result of in England’s WSL she was usually performed out of her greatest, central place. She left Manchester Metropolis shortly after final yr’s listing was introduced to move stateside for OL Reign, the place coach Laura Harvey has been giving her the liberty to seek out and affect the sport.

Lavelle will most likely go down in U.S. girls’s nationwide crew historical past as some of the artistic No. 10s the crew has ever had, and her capability to unlock defenses has made her one of many NWSL’s top-ranked gamers in possibilities created and passing completion within the remaining third. Maybe surprisingly, she is among the many high NWSL gamers in ball recoveries and tackles, displaying simply how full her sport actually is on each side of the ball. — Caitlin Murray


Nation: Spain
Membership: Barcelona
Age: 30
Place: Defender
2021 Rank: Not ranked

Paredes joined Barca’s Treble-winning facet from Paris Saint-Germain final summer season and has seemed effortlessly at residence from day one. Such a relaxed presence on the ball, she completely enhances her associate on the again, the extra visually energetic Mapi Leon. Sadly, Paredes picked the Champions League remaining to have a uncommon off day in what was in any other case an impeccable first season in Catalonia. — Sam Marsden


Nation: Spain
Membership: Barcelona
Age: 27
Place: Defender
2021 Rank: Not ranked

When you permit your self to blink, Leon will take the ball off you. She is an aggressive defender who performs on the entrance foot, leaping ahead at any likelihood to intercept passes and stress attackers. She has been at Barcelona for 5 years now and has performed an vital position in three successive league titles whereas additionally serving to the Blaugrana attain back-to-back Champions League finals. — Sam Marsden


Nation: England
Membership: Manchester Metropolis
Age: 21
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: Not ranked

Hemp will probably be one of many stars of the Euros this summer season. Ideally suited to enjoying off the left wing, you possibly can think about her inflicting all types of issue for the opponent’s right-back as she weaves her means by the protection. She scooped the PFA Younger Participant of the 12 months award in June, making it a file fourth triumph in 5 years for the Man Metropolis star. She chipped in with 21 targets and 10 assists for Metropolis this yr and made the PFA WSL Crew of the 12 months for the previous two seasons.

For a traditional Hemp second, look no additional than the aim she scored within the FA Cup remaining in Might. She collected the ball on the left of Chelsea’s field, minimize inside previous her England teammate Millie Vibrant after which floated a pleasant shot over Anne-Katrin Berger’s head and into the far submit. It was excellent, and all that at simply 21 years previous.

“Lauren is a high participant, she is aware of she’s taken her sport to actually excessive ranges,” stated Man Metropolis supervisor Gareth Taylor in April. “What she brings with the ball is incredible — she’s received excessive power, and we’re all the time seeking to assist her with decision-making.” — Tom Hamilton


Nation: Netherlands
Membership: Paris Saint-Germain
Age: 29
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: 28

If not for a collection of accidents, Martens was on her approach to one other silverware-laden season. The hamstring problem that set in in March prevented her from being decisive once more within the Champions League remaining. That was about the one competitors she didn’t win this season in what should in any other case be referred to as sporting perfection, lifting trophies within the Primera Division, the Copa de la Reina and the Supercopa Femenina. Topped greatest participant on the planet in 2017 after a wonderful European Championship, Martens is eager on one other continental crown this summer season on the Euros, not least as a result of a brand new season and new crew await her with a free switch to Paris Saint-Germain accomplished. — Sjors Grol


Nation: England
Membership: Chelsea
Age: 29
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: 12

Kirby is among the world’s most fun forwards and capped the 2021-22 season by profitable the home league and cup double with Chelsea, however the yr has not been with out its challenges. Kirby has been sidelined since February with fatigue, however putting in an oxygen tank in her home helped her restoration and he or she has been named in England’s squad for this summer season’s residence Euros and will probably be certainly one of their key gamers as they give the impression of being to safe a house triumph.

She is ruthless up entrance — equally adept on the flanks or by the center, Kirby has shaped an excellent partnership with Sam Kerr at Chelsea and completed the WSL season with one of the best charge of assists per 90 minutes with 0.63, and third total for targets and assists per 90 with 1.26. She has overcome an immense quantity of adversity in her life, which is to her everlasting credit score, and that fireplace helps her proceed to push requirements on and off the pitch. — Tom Hamilton


Nation: Sweden
Membership: Chelsea
Age: 28
Place: Defender
2021 Rank: 34

Possibly it says one thing that Eriksson spent three months on the sidelines final season with an ankle damage but nonetheless managed to climb 21 locations from final yr’s rank, now the second-highest defender on the listing after Lyon’s dominating captain Wendie Renard. Each had been named within the FIFPro Ladies’s World XI in January and stand as probably the most feared defenders in girls’s soccer. Eriksson’s activity this summer season is to take Sweden, who’ve received back-to-back Olympic silver medals, all the best way to the Euro title. — Connor O’Halloran


Nation: Chile
Membership: Lyon
Age: 30
Place: Goalkeeper
2021 Rank: 30

Endler was unparalleled between the posts through the Champions League this season, as her facet romped to the title with a 3-1 win over Barcelona within the remaining. She conceded seven targets in 10 outings within the competitors, added to the ten clear sheets she recorded in 14 fixtures within the French Division 1 Female. Lyon received that, too. In 2022 up to now, Chile have received three of 4 matches beneath Endler’s veteran steerage, and can hope to proceed that as they contend the Copa America Femenina in July. — Lindsay du Plessis


Nation: France
Membership: Lyon
Age: 31
Place: Defender
2021 Rank: 11

Regardless of an damage in the beginning of the season, Renard led Lyon to an outstanding Division 1 Female-Champions League double. She was dominant in many of the massive video games, particularly the Champions League semifinal and remaining towards PSG and Barcelona, respectively. At 31, she is just not displaying any indicators of decline, and the charismatic chief and captain now needs a primary trophy with Les Bleues on the Euros. — Julien Laurens


Nation: Norway
Membership: Lyon
Age: 26
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: Not ranked

When Hegerberg ruptured her ACL in January 2020, nobody may have anticipated that it will be the beginning of a 21-month absence from the game for one of many undisputed stars of the sport. Along with her ACL restoration hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the attacker was dealt one other blow when she fractured her tibia not lengthy after returning to coaching.

For any participant, even one at their peak, nobody is aware of fairly what to anticipate after they return after such a protracted absence, however Hegerberg quick fell again into step with Lyon and by November, she was again on the scoresheet. The targets started to move as she discovered the rhythms and rekindled the partnerships together with her teammates, her aim within the Champions League remaining an ideal demonstration of her capability within the field.

The day out of the sport additionally gave Hegerberg time to replicate, and after greater than 4 years of declining nationwide crew call-ups, she returned to the Norway fold with the assurances that the nation’s FA was addressing her issues that ladies in Norway didn’t obtain the identical alternatives as males’s gamers. Identical to with Lyon, the pushed attacker quick discovered the again of the online together with her nationwide crew, scoring a hat trick on her return. — Sophie Lawson

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1:46

Aitana Bonmati sees optimistic change within the girls’s sport since she grew up idolising males’s gamers.


Nation: Spain
Membership: Barcelona
Age: 24
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: Not ranked

Bonmati is a typical Barcelona midfielder. What she lacks in measurement, she makes up for in method. She will twist her means out of something and her link-up play with fellow midfielders Putellas and Guijarro is maybe one of the best factor about this Barca facet when they’re on track. The one-touch passing, positioning and motion have bamboozled among the greatest groups within the sport this season, together with Arsenal and Wolfsburg.

If that wasn’t sufficient, Bonmati has matured within the remaining third as properly. Throughout the Primera Division and the Champions League, she scored 17 targets this season, along with offering six assists. — Sam Marsden


Nation: Spain
Membership: Pachuca
Age: 32
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: 17

Even in failing to match the goal-scoring feats that propelled Barca to a treble and a first-ever Champions League triumph in 2020-21, Hermoso’s numbers previously 12 months would nonetheless be the envy of many gamers. She netted 16 occasions as Barca received the league unbeaten and added one other 5 as they reached the Champions League remaining, dropping to Lyon.

Nonetheless, after scoring 37 occasions in these two competitions final season, it felt like a step again for Barca’s file aim scorer. The Spain striker, who has advanced into extra of a No. 10 than a No. 9, faces a brand new journey in Mexico. After her contract with Barca expired this month, she signed with Liga MX Femenil outfit Pachuca as a free agent. — Sam Marsden


Nation: France
Membership: Paris Saint-Germain
Age: 23
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: 19

Initially of February, on the age of 23, Katoto surpassed Marie-Laure Delie to turn into Paris Saint-Germain’s all-time main aim scorer with 132 targets in 148 matches. That’s probably all anybody must know to grasp the sheer depth of her capability in entrance of aim, the rangy striker all however constructed to attain.

With an understanding of when to time her runs, the place to make her decisive strikes and the way greatest to get the higher of her opposition, there’s a contact of the convenience to all that Katoto does, a pure capability that’s directly efficient and entertaining. Eyebrows had been raised when Corinne Diacre opted to go away the striker (then 20) out of France’s squad for his or her residence World Cup; nevertheless, Katoto has not often been absent since, the attacker with 24 targets in 28 caps for Les Bleues. — Sophie Lawson


Nation: United States
Membership: Lyon
Age: 22
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: Not ranked

After lacking out on final yr’s listing totally, Macario skyrockets to debut at No. 6 following a sensational season for membership and nation. She has been hailed as the way forward for the U.S. girls’s nationwide crew, however it seems like the longer term is right here — at the very least as soon as Macario recovers from an ACL damage she suffered in early June, which is able to preserve her sidelined for a number of months.

In her first full season in France’s high flight, she was Lyon’s high scorer, netting 23 targets in 35 matches throughout all competitions, together with 9 targets and two assists within the Champions League. For the U.S. she’s additionally discovered her breakthrough, main the generational shift that noticed the USWNT win the SheBelieves Cup. USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski (additionally a voter in our panel) has made it clear the crew will probably be constructing round Macario’s expertise, which suggests she will be able to characteristic within the midfield or up high and play a key position. — Caitlin Murray


Nation: Denmark
Membership: Chelsea
Age: 29
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: 4

A knee damage meant that we maybe did not see as a lot of Tougher as we’d have appreciated this season, however she was in glorious kind when she was on the pitch, particularly towards the top of the marketing campaign when Chelsea wanted her most. She has dropped one place since final yr, but when something, her kind has improved as she has settled into her position at Chelsea. Her aim towards Manchester United in September is among the greatest examples of this. She went on a solo run down the wing from the midway line and chipped the ball completely over Mary Earps’ head.

Rivals will probably be nervous because the two-time UEFA Ladies’s Participant of the 12 months remains to be getting higher and higher. It was disappointing not attending to see extra of her within the Champions League — a contest wherein she has flourished — after Chelsea crashed out within the group stage, and had she had that chance, she may have been ranked greater. — Kathleen McNamee


Nation: Norway
Membership: Barcelona
Age: 27
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: 9

Graham Hansen was bizarrely omitted from all the foremost particular person awards all through final season, however she climbs to fourth in ESPN’s rankings after one other very good marketing campaign at Barca. A lot of the targets scored by Putellas & Co. wouldn’t be doable with out the deft work of Graham Hansen on the proper.

The Norway winger feints to go inside and earlier than you already know it she’s gone exterior, reached the byline and pulled the ball again for a teammate. She additionally has targets in her repertoire — try the one she scored towards Wolfsburg within the Champions League semifinal — and her decision-making is often second to none, aided by her fascination with chess. She arrange 13 targets within the Primera Division, greater than anybody else, and one other 4 in Europe. The very fact Barca have received 9 of a doable 12 trophies since she joined in 2019 demonstrates Hansen’s abilities and affect on the membership. — Sam Marsden

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Gamers, pundits and followers come collectively to elucidate the brilliance of Vivianne Miedema, Sam Kerr and Alexia Putellas.


Nation: Netherlands
Membership: Arsenal
Age: 25
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: 3

It’s not possible to not embody Miedema in a listing of one of the best strikers who ever lived. In June, she grew to become the primary participant to be concerned in 100 targets within the FA Ladies’s Tremendous League. Along with having a goal-scoring file that just about nobody on this earth can come near, she may be extra egocentric, as she averages an help each two video games. Miedema is sort of a dependable machine that not often falters.

She remained loyal to Arsenal although trophies are rising concentrated at golf equipment like Barcelona, Lyon and Chelsea, however silverware in north London seems to be price extra to her. She can be more and more conscious of her colossal affect on the planet, utilizing her platform to name consideration to the significance of psychological well being. — Sjors Grol


Nation: Australia
Membership: Chelsea
Age: 28
Place: Ahead
2021 Rank: 2

Simply when it appears like there may be nothing left to write down about Kerr, the Australian striker finds new ranges and new methods to astound followers and greatest defenses. The 2021-22 season was certainly one of nice private success sprinkled with crew success. Her Instagram resembled a digital trophy case, with picture after picture of FA Cups, league titles and of player-of-the-season awards.

– Podcast: The Far Put up reacts to Sam Kerr’s #2 rank

She grew to become Australia’s all-time main aim scorer in what was an in any other case disappointing Asian Cup for the Matildas whereas persevering with so as to add to her Golden Boot assortment in membership land. Kerr constructed on what was an already spectacular first full marketing campaign in Chelsea blue, persevering with to seek out targets, make assists and bother defenders, however this season, she confirmed off her style for aptitude and drama. — Marissa Lordanic

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The Far Put up Podcast crew says Sam Kerr’s wonderful season was sufficient to earn high spot within the ESPN FC Ladies’s Rank.


Nation: Spain
Membership: Barcelona
Age: 28
Place: Midfielder
2021 Rank: 22

Putellas follows up profitable the Ballon d’Or and being named The Finest FIFA Ladies’s Participant by topping ESPN’s rating. She not solely leads Barca on the pitch however can be the picture of the crew off it. It’s her face that has changed Lionel Messi’s on promoting boards across the metropolis. It’s her identify that younger ladies wore on their shirts at Camp Nou as Barca broke the attendance file in girls’s soccer not as soon as, however twice this season. That could be a consequence of her laborious work.

She has grown with Barcelona all through the previous decade, serving to them win one other three trophies this season — the Champions League defeat to Lyon will gasoline her to go one higher once more subsequent season — and showing in all the large moments. She scored in each of the Camp Nou sellouts — towards Actual Madrid and Wolfsburg — and grabbed the aim that just about kick-started a comeback towards Lyon. She scored a competition-high 11 Champions League targets and one other 18 within the league, all from midfield. — Sam Marsden

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