Top 100 Female Footballers of 2021: 40-31
The voting period for the Top 100 Female Footballers of 2021 was October 2020 – October 2021.
Schüller not only returns to the 100 this year but flies straight back into the top 50 and there’s few arguments when looking at her impact in 2021. She ended last season with 16 goals, the most of any Bayern Munich player as they won the Bundesliga title and her seven this season see her lead the race for the golden boot already. At 24 she is one of the most fearsome strikers anywhere in Europe, and already has 11 goals for Germany in just six World Cup qualifiers, an incredible record by anyone’s standards.
Like several of Lyon’s mainstays over the years, Henry drops out of the top 10 for the first time since 2017, but she still showed her talent throughout the year despite PSG ending her side’s domestic dominance. She has a tendency for a big goal, as she showed only last month with a late header against Bayern Munich. There are still few finer box-to-box players anywhere in Europe and after signing a new deal she has plenty more to give in the next few years.
Fleming’s 2021 was defined by the Tokyo Olympics in the summer, where her composed performances in midfield didn’t necessarily go unnoticed, but were eclipsed by her composure from the penalty spot. She scored in the quarter-final shootout against Brazil, scored the decisive winner 15 minutes from time against the USA, and scored in both normal time and the shootout in the final against Sweden as Canada won gold. Fleming has also just started to hold down a more regular starting role for Chelsea, so keep an eye on her in 2022.
Another of the Lyon superstars who briefly swapped France for the US this year, Le Sommer took to the NWSL like she had been there her whole career and played a huge role in OL Reign’s march to the NWSL play-offs. Not that she was in a slump before it, with four goals for Lyon at the end of last season. Her highlights though came in the US, with eight goals and three assists in her 18 appearances during her temporary stay. Le Sommer showed she has lost none of her ability and now returns to France with some fine form behind her.
It was another really solid year for the Dutch midfielder who swapped Arsenal for Lyon in the summer, an endorsement of her talent in itself. Van de Donk led the assists charts at the Tokyo Olympics and was a constant source of creativity, while also happy to do the other side of the game and fight for her team in the middle of the park. She has been a regular for Lyon since her move, has already been on the scoresheet several times, and scored four in five games for her country in recent World Cup qualifiers.
The great Horan enjoyed another very good year, helping Portland Thorns to the NWSL Shield where she was always a goal threat for her side. Her ability to break forward and link with attacking teammates means she remains an important part of both her club side and the US national team – that she has been the No 10 recently for the latter after Carli Lloyd’s retirement shows the influence she has, and will continue to have.
Bronze drops out of the top 10 for the first time after a knee operation post-Olympics ended her 2021 prematurely. Many of Team GB’s goals in Tokyo came via Bronze’s runs down the right, her links with her clubmate Ellen White particularly fruitful. Her five assists last season after returning for Manchester City helped them to a strong second half of the season and she remains one of the best attacking full-backs in the game. Her presence for City has been sorely missed as she continues her recovery from injury.
It has taken some time but Glas has finally this year become the highest ranked right-back in our list, surpassing Lucy Bronze. It is much deserved – for too long Glas has gone underappreciated despite her consistent presence in defence and her ability to get forward and help in attack. She was excellent for Sweden against the USA in Tokyo and has been a consistent source of assists for club and country, playing a key role in helping Bayern Munich win back their Bundesliga title from Wolfsburg.
Oshoala may have been outshone by a couple of her teammates but her goalscoring record for Barcelona in 2021 deserves praise. She ended last season with 18 goals in 26 games in the league and had 11 in nine by the end of November this season. Add that to important Champions League goals in both legs against Manchester City this season and another against former club Arsenal more recently and it’s clear that Oshoala is adding a ruthlessness to her game. She is now up there with Europe’s top strikers.
It’s no easy task fighting your way into a Barcelona attack that already houses Lieke Martens, Jenni Hermoso and Asisat Oshoala, yet Caldentey still ended last season with 13 goals and nine assists and played a big part in her team’s success. The No 9 is already off the mark with five goals this season and the homegrown Barcelona star is approaching her peak years in top form, culminating in her first appearance in the top 100. She’s also recently hit six goals in three World Cup qualifiers for her country (chk). One to watch at next year’s European Championships.