Top 100 Female Footballers of 2021: 90-81
The voting period for the Top 100 Female Footballers of 2021 was October 2020 – October 2021.
Daly reigned supreme in the NWSL this year, ending the season as second-joint top scorer in the league in what was ultimately a disappointing campaign for Houston Dash who missed out on the end-of-season play-offs. Daly’s all-action style was once again prevalent, showing a do-or-die attitude for her team and, with Lucy Bronze injured, Daly continued to hold down her familiar right-back role for England.
Dudek has so often come so close to making the 100 and this year finally, and deservedly, breaks into the rankings. The Poland international perhaps goes unnoticed compared to some of the bigger names in the PSG defence, but to play such a key role in their title success proves what a top-class defender Dudek has become. Her stats this year set her apart from most defenders and it most certainly won’t be the last time she makes the 100, her composure on the ball and no-nonsense defending making her a classic modern defender.
After joining Juventus at the back end of 2020 off a successful Damallsvenskan season, Hurtig wasted no time in settling into her new environment, scoring six goals in her debut Serie A campaign for the Old Lady. Hurtig also hit seven for Sweden, the imposing centre-forward enjoying a good year during which her most memorable contributions came in Tokyo, scoring first in a dominant 3-0 win over the USA before finding the net again against Australia. A first appearance in the 100 and probably not the last.
How one of the USA’s brightest prospects got on at one of Europe’s top sides was always going to be an intriguing 2021 storyline, and Macario didn’t disappoint. Five goals in seven for Lyon last season has been followed up by seven already this season where she sits as the second top scorer in the league, adding to her three in the Champions League. Macario also got off the mark for her national team in a year that couldn’t have gone much better for the 22-year-old who took full advantage of key Lyon attackers being out through injury or departing for new adventures.
While several players swapped PSG for Lyon over the summer, Karchaoui went the other way, opting to join the French champions rather than leave them. The left-back is now in the prime years of her career and performing consistently, holding down the position for her national team. Her talent is illustrated by the calibre of clubs that have chased her before two big moves in consecutive summers. With her ability to get forward and influence attacks, Karchaoui enjoyed another solid year overall.
Bonansea remains one of the classiest operators in the Italian game and again had huge influence on Juventus’s continued supremacy in Serie A, particularly when in fine scoring form during the first half of the year. Bonansea’s close control, vision and eye for goal has always made her one of the best players to come out of Italy and at 30 she’s showing no signs of slowing down. She has transferred her good form to the Italy national team and will be one to watch at next summer’s European Championships.
Sauerbrunn finally got to play her first full season with Portland Thorns after the pandemic caused the cancellation of the NWSL after her trade in 2020. The 36-year-old was a constant presence at the heart of the Thorns’ shield-winning team in 2021 while continuing her good form for the national team on the way to picking up a bronze medal in Tokyo. Let’s enjoy Sauerbrunn, a leader on and off the pitch, while we can as she remains one of the best defenders in the world and regains her place in the top 100.
The sky appears to be the limit for the 21-year-old Baltimore. Her raw pace and skill is already proving tough to deal with for the very best full-backs in the world and she has quickly become one of the leading creators in the French league, ending last season with 12 assists and with five already this season, the second best in the league. Baltimore is part of an in-form front three alongside Marie-Antoinette Katoto and Kadidiatou Diani, and she is well on the way to stardom, her performance for France against England this year serving as a warning of what she is capable of.
After a couple of consistent seasons, Hatch in 2021 joined an exclusive club of players who can say they won the NWSL Golden Boot. The 26-year-old was in great form throughout the year, the only player whose goal tally reached double figures in the regular season. Hatch went on to score the winner in the first play-off round against North Carolina Courage and deservedly picked up a championship medal, while a recent return to the USA squad saw her score twice in two games. At the peak of her powers in 2021.
Hegering has enjoyed a late blossoming in making the list for the first time at 31, but her role in Bayern Munich’s domestic triumph last season ensures it’s a deserved inclusion for the rock-solid German who has only in the last few years started to hold down a permanent spot in the national team. Hegering goes quietly about her business but has over 2021 become one of the top centre-backs and is hugely important to both Bayern and Germany.