Top 100 Female Footballers of 2022: 30-21
The voting period for the Top 100 Female Footballers of 2022 was 1st November 2021 – 31st October 2022
Paredes continues to hold down one of the best centre-back partnerships in world football with Mapi León at Barcelona, her no-nonsense approach still marking her out as one of the best. She showed her aerial ability at the other end of the pitch too during Spain’s Euro 2022 campaign, and she led with grace through a difficult period for the team after their exit. Paredes misses the top 10 this year, but that reflects more on the excellence of others than it does about her.
Horan took on a new challenge in 2022 when she returned to Europe on a year-long loan from Portland Thorns. It’s one she is passing with flying colours, finding the net regularly from midfield in both the league and Europe and adding her box-to-box qualities to the Lyon side where she picked up the Women’s Champions League trophy this year. For the USA, she continues to be as influential as ever, even if asked at times to play a slightly more defensive role.
Kirby’s effect on her teams is so often realised when she is missing. As she struggled for fitness to be ready for Euro 2022, it never takes long for Kirby to remind people what they have missed. For England, she popped up with some special goals in the Euros while she has been in fine form for Chelsea in the new season. Both Chelsea and England are better when Kirby is available and Emma Hayes and Sarina Wiegman will be hoping Kirby can now put fitness problems behind her and return to her very best.
Yet another England player who flies up the rankings this year having only just made the list 12 months ago. Bright forged a formidable partnership for England with Leah Williamson at the Euros and was arguably one of the Lionesses’ most important players during the tournament. Her year started with the bizarre moment of being awarded joint Golden Boot winner alongside Alexia Putellas at the Arnold Clark Cup, but that was just the start of Bright’s silverware for Chelsea and England.
It looked as though Stanway’s career was approaching somewhat of a crossroads in 2022. Struggling to hold down a key role at Manchester City, the midfielder announced before the Euros that she would be heading to Bayern Munich. Sarina Wiegman’s decision to move Leah Williamson from midfield before the tournament opened things up for Stanway who took her opportunity with both hands. She was the driving force in England’s midfield and scoring a superb goal against Spain to spark the team’s charge towards glory, and is thriving in Germany.
A slight rise up the table for Magull in 2022 reflects the consistency in her performances, and she was one Germany player who certainly didn’t deserve to be on the end of a defeat in the Euro 2022 final. Magull has so often been the driving force in midfield both domestically and internationally – few have got the art of popping up late in the box to score a goal down to a tee like her, as shown at Wembley in July, and recently in a Women’s Champions League win for Bayern Munich against Barcelona.
Diani took her game up a level in 2022. Named in the team of the season and nominated for player of the year in France, the PSG striker started the Euros in fine form before injury to teammate Katoto meant she had to take on a slightly different role. Diani has been prolific, leading the scoring charts in France early in the new season despite stiff competition from her own teammates and rivals elsewhere. Now at her peak, she is enjoying some of the best form of her career.
Debinha has been reliably influential for her club in the NWSL and this year was no different. Between her 12 goals and four assists, the Brazilian almost single-handedly dragged her team through a difficult season and took her game to new heights. She was also in fine form for her country, scoring five goals as Brazil won the Copa América earlier this year, where she was also named in team of the tournament after her penalty decided the final against a stubborn Colombia side.
Still only 22, it is frightening to contemplate how good Hemp can get. The only criticism was about adding more goals to her game, which she did by scoring 10 in the WSL last season. Still one of the toughest wingers to defend against, Hemp can use both her left and right foot with equally devastating consequences. The European Championship was quiet by her own high standards but Hemp still popped up with big moments, and has started the new season in typically fine form for Manchester City. There is still plenty more to come.
Sophia Smith is the highest first-time entrant into this year’s top 100, with three judges marking the forward’s immense rise by picking her as their No 1. She showed the world what she’s about this year, her 14 goals and direct forward play playing a huge role in the Portland Thorns clinching the NWSL Championship. Smith has been in devastating form throughout the year and is taking on a more prominent role in a new-look USA attack, earning the NWSL MVP award at just 22 for her performances in 2022.