Top 100 Female Footballers of 2022: 90-81
The voting period for the Top 100 Female Footballers of 2022 was 1st November 2021 – 31st October 2022.
Another solid year for one of Spain’s most consistent goalscorers. While Real Madrid have not been firing on all cylinders in 2022, González remains their main source of goals, ending last season’s domestic campaign with 14 of them. She came closest to knocking out England with her composed opener for Spain in the Euro 2022 quarter-final and the striker has continued her good form into the new season, scoring seven league goals. She remains one of Spain’s most instinctive strikers.
One of the best signings in the NWSL this season, Sugita was so important in the success of the Portland Thorns in 2022. The 25-year-old ended the regular season with five goals and four assists from midfield, consistently contributing to the attacking talent within the Thorns side. Her close control and ability to play defence-splitting passes are typical of the Japanese style of play and now she’s firmly on the radar, it’s going to be exciting to see just how much Sugita develops in one of the world’s top leagues.
Fishel is another who announced herself to the world in 2022 at the age of 21. Drafted by Orlando Pride after a great college career with UCLA, Fishel decided to cross south of the border to play for Tigres in Mexico, and it is fair to say it has proved a smart move. The striker was top scorer in the league with 17 goals which led to cries for a call-up for the USA team, though such inclusion has remained elusive. Her ability to find the net has gained a host of admirers and Fishel looks like she will get better, with a senior USA squad place only a matter of time should the level of her performances continue to grow at the same rate as her talent.
It’s unfair to narrow any player’s year down to one moment, but for one who struggled so much with injury in the first half of it the image of Kelly running around whipping her shirt above her head after scoring the winning goal in the biggest game of the year is one many will never forget, especially in England. It was not the prettiest goal she will ever score, but it will likely be the biggest, the goal that created history for the Lionesses and women’s football in England. Now recovered from injury, she’s seeing her form come back for Manchester City too after saying she struggled somewhat after the high of the Euros.
Most of those who break into our top 100 are younger players with their whole careers ahead of them, but Peyraud-Magnin is maturing into a top goalkeeper. She has found a home at Juventus and with it her best form, which led to her becoming the France No 1 in the buildup for the summer’s European Championship, where she impressed. At 30, it’s taken Peyraud-Magnin some time to reach her full potential, but she has developed into a fine goalkeeper and comes in at 86th after last year falling outside the top 300.
Ji departed after eight glorious years at Chelsea with another league title and FA Cup triumph. In truth, her superb five-goal haul at the Asia Cup in February, as South Korea finished runners up, gave a feeling she had plenty more to give in Europe, shown in glimpses after often being used off the bench by Emma Hayes last season. However, she chose to return home with Suwon, where the 31-year-old is continuing to show her talent in front of her own supporters. Now an icon of women’s football in Asia, Ji continues to perform at a very high level.
Rafaelle is another player making the top 100 for the first time just after hitting her 30s. She had a fantastic year at club and international level. After a five-year stint in China, Rafaelle joined Arsenal in January and made an instant impact at the heart of the team’s defence, striking up a partnership with Leah Williamson. And just as Williamson captained her nation to a major tournament in the summer, so did Rafaelle, as Brazil lifted the Copa América with the defender leading the team and wearing the captain’s armband. With a no-nonsense approach at the back, Rafaelle has been a revelation in England.
Zadrazil is another new face entering the top 100 for the first time. Playing slightly different roles for Bayern Munich and Austria, she has impressed for both in 2022. For Bayern, she has struck up an instant partnership with Georgia Stanway in midfield, and her talent enables her to control games and create chances for attacking teammates. For Austria at Euro 2022, Zadrazil showed her more all-action side, pressing and harrassing opposition midfielders as Austria enjoyed a solid run to the quarter-finals. One of the most underrated midfielders around.
Kerolin came to the fore in her first full season in the NWSL, striking up a potent partnership with her fellow Brazilian Debinha at North Carolina Courage. With pace and trickery, the combination has proven difficult to deal with for even the best full-backs in the league and there’s every argument to suggest Kerolin could and should have been in the MVP conversation. Her scoring record at international level is already impressive and she helped Brazil to the Copa América title, as well as racking up four assists in the NWSL. There is plenty more to come from the 23-year-old.
There continue to be few who can drive a team quite like Fishlock. She helped OL Reign to the NWSL regular season title and almost single-handedly dragged Wales to a first major tournament in the women’s game. Her audacious volley deep into extra time against Bosnia-Herzegovina summed up the kind of player Fishlock is. At 35 she is showing few signs of slowing down but continues to be as important to club and country as ever.