2. Pernille Harder
Pernille Harder had already established herself as one of the finest up and coming players in the world in 2016, but 2017 was enough for her to shrug off the ‘up and coming’ tag, because she’s now one of the best around at any age group.
After her goals helped Linköpings to the Damallsvenskan title in 2016, Harder was snapped up by Bundesliga champions Wolfsburg, and Harder joined to help the team defend their title in 2017, a hat-trick against Gladbach in April the highlight.
Harder was also captaining a Denmark side that would make the Euro 2017 final, showing her intent with a hat-trick against Russia in March’s Algarve Cup.
It would have been unjust had Harder walked away from Euro 2017 without a goal to her name, the forward by far Denmark’s best player in attack as Nils Nielsen’s side surprised everyone by reaching the final, Harder being named in the Team of the Tournament alongside Jodie Taylor up front.
Despite a disappointing ending, Harder’s fine individual goal on the biggest stage of all announced her talent to a worldwide audience, and the 24-year-old has continued that form into the new Bundesliga season.
With Wolfsburg once again sitting pretty at the top of the table, Harder already has 11 goals, five clear of the next best in Lina Magull and Alex Popp.
Nils Nielsen, former Denmark head coach says:
“Pernille Harder is the hardest worker and the most skillful Danish player. She has an extremely elegant run with the ball and she can turn and shoot like no other. She scores loads of goals everywhere she plays and she is a true winner. She is the captain of Denmark, and she will be for many years to come.”
Stephan Lerch, Wolfsburg manager says:
“Pernille’s just a complete player, has good dribbling, is a goal-scoring attacker, both-footed and a good header of the football. She is also an absolute team player.”
Anja Mittag, former team mate says:
“Pernille is one of the most complete players I have ever played with. She’s a great finisher with either foot, she can head the ball really well and she’s a great dribbler. Pernille works hard in defence and she makes her team mates better, an intelligent player who understands the game., she’s definitely a game-changer.”
Janni Arnth Jensen, Denmark team mate says:
“Top class players can win games by themselves – and Pernille can do that. She scores when its necessary for the team. Her qualities as a football player is at the highest level. In the attacking play she is dangerous herself and can score goals in many ways. Her mentality of always getting better everyday makes that Pernille just keeps growing and getting better in the coming years than what she has already shown after to amazing season for her clubs and for the national team.”
Sofie Junge Pedersen, Denmark team mate says:
“Pernille scores a lot of goals and creates a lot of goals, good at positioning herself in front of the defensive line and she is dangerous when she receives the ball there. The year she has had is her best ever, she has scored a lot of goals and has been very important for Wolfsburg, Linköping and the national team, her trophies speak for themselves.”