Top 100 Female Footballers of 2021: 80-71
The voting period for the Top 100 Female Footballers of 2021 was October 2020 – October 2021.
Very few forwards anywhere in Europe enjoyed the year Billa did and despite being a first-time entrant she could arguably have ranked much higher. In a league dominated by Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg, the Hoffenheim forward ended last season with 23 goals, six clear of anyone else, and already has six this season, putting her up towards the top end of the rankings again. Very few have an eye for goal like she does and we’ll see her on the biggest stage at the Euros with Austria next year.
Iwabuchi finally returned to Europe this year but perhaps not where many expected as the Japanese superstar rocked up at Aston Villa in January. A spectacular winner against Tottenham showed what she was all about and her performances helped Villa to safety before she made the eye-catching switch to Arsenal in the summer. One of the best technical players anywhere in the world, Iwabuchi also found the net seven times for her country in 2021, including one at the Tokyo Olympics.
Pajor is another player we were robbed of seeing regularly in 2021, with the Poland striker missing the first half of the year through injury, but returning in spectacular fashion with eight goals in just six league games for Wolfsburg before the end of last season. At 24, Pajor has quickly established herself as one of the best in Europe but another injury has restricted her to three league appearances this season in which she has three league goals. Overall, more goals than games played tells a story but it’s been a frustrating year for the striker.
At 36, the brilliant midfield maestro still has the talent to have a huge influence for club and country. For Rosengard, Seger was a constant in midfield as the club won back their domestic league title, while she was still a regular for a star-studded Sweden side, which says everything about what she still has to offer coming towards the back end of her career. Few would have deserved gold more in Tokyo, even if Seger had to settle for silver, it was another bit of silverware to go with her domestic success this year.
Roord made the move from Arsenal to Wolfsburg over the summer and a return to Germany really seems to have reinvigorated the 24-year-old, whose link up with Tabea Waßmuth in particular has been impressive. Roord has five goals in her opening nine league games for Wolfsburg, two more in the Champions League, while a recent hat-trick for the Netherlands only emphasised her return to scoring form. Roord has been around at the top level for a while now but at still just 24 possibly has another level to go to after a great end to the year.
Mead’s year has peaked right at the very end, having bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on the Olympics with some of her best form for both Arsenal and England since the new season started. Mead had a solid first half of the year but since the summer has already matched her goal tally from last season and continued to be as good as anyone at creating goals for her teammates, while a recent hat-trick at Wembley for England got her off to a good start under Sarina Wiegman.
Malard has taken on the goalscoring responsibility expected of her at Lyon, with Ada Hegerberg injured and Eugenie Le Sommer on loan in the USA, already scoring seven goals in the league this season, a tally beaten only by PSG’s Marie-Antoinette Katoto. The talented 21-year-old is already showing composure in front of goal beyond her years for one of Europe’s top teams, while scoring her first goals for her country at the end of October in a World Cup qualifier. A deserved first appearance in the rankings and it will surely not be the last time Malard makes our 100.
Castellanos took no time settling into her first full season with Atlético Madrid, and despite falling short of some of their rivals in the league, the young Venezuelan sensation hit 13 goals last season and has six in just 10 games already in the new campaign, fulfilling the promise that once made her one of the most talked about youngsters in the world. Given how long her potential has been discussed, it’s easy to forget she is still only 22 and has a lot more to come, but she is certainly showing the talent wasn’t all just talk.
It would be unfair to label Labbé’s 2021 solely around the Tokyo Olympics given the Canadian goalkeeper played a regular role for Rosengard in the first half of the season, leaving the Swedish side at the top of the Damallsvenskan table when she joined the French champions PSG. Her exploits in Tokyo, though, became one of the moments of the year, her penalty saves both in normal time and in shootouts playing a pivotal role in her team walking away with gold medals.
Retirement means this is the last time Lloyd will appear in the 100, and she goes out on the back of a very solid year which saw her gain one last medal with her country. No one contributed more goals to the USA throughout the year as Lloyd hit double figures, including two in the Olympic bronze-medal match against Australia to round off her last major tournament. Four goals in a shorter domestic season for NJ/NY Gotham also helped her club to the play-offs where she bowed out one last time.