9: Lieke Martens
How do you follow a year where you helped your country win their first major tournament, starring throughout in front of your home fans and securing a move to Barcelona? This year was always going to be the difficult second album for Martens, but she did a fine job of continuing to show the quality that brought her to the world’s attention at Euro 2017. While Barça missed out on the Liga Iberdrola title to Atlético Madrid, Martens hit double figures for the season – with seven of them coming since the beginning of 2018. They had better fortunes in the domestic cup and, after Martens scored in the 94th minute of the semi-final against Athletic Club, Fran Sánchez’s side went on to beat Atlético in the final. On the international front, the Netherlands struggled to build on 2017’s successes but the recent play-off victory over Switzerland – in which Martens also found the net – ensured them a place at next summer’s World Cup. She shone at the Algarve Cup, scoring twice in a 6-2 win over Japan and again in a repeat of the Euro 2017 final against Denmark.
Fran Sanchez Bas, FC Barcelona manager:
“Lieke is a decisive player who can easily unbalance the opponents. She’s skilful, technical and scores goals, she is a big player for us.”