Top 100 Female Footballers of 2021: 100-91
The voting period for the Top 100 Female Footballers of 2021 was October 2020 – October 2021.
Kelly’s year was ended prematurely and cruelly after an innocuous collision in a league game for Manchester City left her with an ACL injury that ruled her out of the Team GB squad for the Olympics. Kelly had stepped up to City’s level better than anyone could have imagined, scoring 10 goals and registering 11 assists in the Women’s Super League before her injury. Her pace, skill and end product set her apart – that she still squeezes into the list despite not having played since May is testament to that.
Bright remained what she has always been for Chelsea and England this year – a really consistent and solid performer in a Blues side that again enjoyed domestic success. Strong and imposing, Bright offers a tough presence at the back for club and country and was given the honour of captaining England for the first time in November, showing at 28 she is also now ready to take on a leadership role at the top level.
Parris returned to England this year after a good run of form with Lyon where she ended last season as the joint-third top scorer in D1 Arkema, her form at the back end of 2020 a particular highlight, including four goals in one game in December. Parris ended the season with 13 goals before joining Arsenal where she got off to a good start with two goals in Champions League qualifying. It has not happened in front of goal for the hard-working Parris more recently but she is quickly becoming an important part of Jonas Eidevall’s plans.
Pugh returns to the 100 after a year in which she helped the Red Stars reach the NWSL final, with four assists setting her apart as one of the league’s most creative players. With pace to burn, Pugh is continuing to add end product to her game, her goal in the first play-off round against Gotham was pivotal and her place in the second best XI in the NWSL awards illustrated her contribution on the field in Chicago throughout 2021.
The experienced French midfielder wasn’t always a regular starter for Barcelona, but she played an important part in the team’s success in 2021. Hamraoui was called upon to start the Champions League final against Chelsea and put in a solid performance, one of her last contributions before returning to France with PSG where she became a regular starter and key performer for the French champions. Her importance to two of 2021’s most successful sides tells its own story, though her year ended on a traumatic note when she was violently assaulted by two masked assailants in November.
Arguably the breakout star of 2021 having come straight out of the NWSL draft and, while still a teenager, imposing herself on the league, ending the season with six goals, five assists and an NWSL trophy as Washington Spirit won the championship for the first time. Rodman, daughter of the former NBA player Dennis, scored in the semi-final and played a vital part in the final and it looks as though the sky is the limit for a highly promising young player.
Gilles makes our list for the first time and is probably one of 2021’s most understated and underrated performers. While all eyes focused on some of Canada’s bigger names when they won gold in Tokyo, the solid centre-back was one of their standout performers throughout the tournament, forging a brilliant partnership with Kadeisha Buchanan. It would have been cruel had her penalty miss in the final shootout been costly because few deserved a gold medal more and Gilles will no doubt continue to gain more recognition in future years.
Ertz suffers a significant drop in the rankings but, given the injury problems she has faced this year, it says a lot about how she is viewed around the world that she makes the 100 again. While her club season was almost nonexistent, Ertz did remain a regular for the USA all the way up to and including the Olympics, where her presence was missed in the opening 45 minutes of their first game, against Sweden. The US became a more solid prospect after her return and the all-energy midfielder helped her side to bronze but sadly she hasn’t played since.
Another player who enjoyed a breakout campaign in the NWSL this year. Purce was inspired throughout 2021, ending the regular season as the joint-second top scorer in the league with nine goals and playing a huge part in helping NJ/NY Gotham into the end of season play-offs with her direct play and eye for goal. Purce was a nightmare to play against for any NWSL side and earned a place in the NWSL best XI as a reward for her fine form.
Lohmann is one of many players who would have probably claimed a higher ranking had it not been for injuries. One of the breakout stars of 2020, Lohmann took that form into 2021 and played a commanding midfield role in what turned out to be an ultimately successful year for Bayern Munich. Now a key member of the Germany team, Lohmann had to have hip surgery a few months ago but should still return at the top of her game.