VAVEL Top 50 Female Footballers of 2016: 50-41
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VAVEL Top 50 Female Footballers of 2016: 50-41

It's been another stellar year in women's football and we're here to start our countdown of the best players, from 50-41

Sophie Lawson

With 2016 drawing to a close and some of us at VAVEL still reeling from the FIFA top ten female players of the year list, you may have seen some of the Tweets we thought it was only right to bring out our best 50 of 2016.

It’s been an action-packed year, in Australia, Melbourne City won their inaugural year in the W-League, failing to drop a single point all season before going on to win the grand final too. Unbeaten champions a theme in Europe too as Linköping navigated the entire 2016 season without defeat, putting an end to Rosengård’s tenure as Sweden’s best, in France, Olympique Lyonnaise managed the same feat topping Division 1 Féminine for a tenth straight season.

So too in Norway as LSK topped the Toppserien for a third successive year whilst in England, Manchester City staved off defeat for the entire league season to claim their first WSL title. Further north, only losing one game and dropping three points all year, Glasgow City made it ten titles on the bounce as Bayern Munich added their second Frauen-Bundesliga title in as many years, only tasting defeat once.

In Spain, Athletic Club added their first title for nine years, dramatically finishing the season one point better off than second-placed Barcelona and in the USA, the Portland Thorns stormed the NWSL to scoop the Shield but fell short of the Championship, that accolade falling to Western New York Flash in the most dramatic of fashions.

In the UEFA Women’s Champions League, Lyon and VfL Wolfsburg set up a grandstand final in Reggio Emilia, the French champions better from the spot. This season’s competition already well underway, Danes Fortuna Hjørring and WSL’s Manchester City going big guns to reach the quarters finals, joined by two teams who fell at the quarters last season, Barcelona and Rosengård. Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich both vying for a spot in the semi-finals, either Lyon or Wolfsburg certain to fall at the penultimate hurdle as they go head-to-head in April.

But of course there was plenty of international action too with Euro qualifiers, Olympic qualifiers, more Euro qualifiers, the Summer Olympics and then even more Euro qualifiers. As well of plenty of youth tournaments that’ve seen North Korea storm the World of U17 and U20 football and Spain fall just short at both the U17 and U19 European levels to Germany and France respectively – be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a special Best Youth Players of the Year list coming out this month.

In summation, it’s been a busy year for women’s football across the world and our team of writers have been hard at work watching every possible second of the action, foregoing sleep and good sense to watch through the night and that’s how we’ve arrived at this list. Of course, we’re just a small group of writers but we’ve pooled the knowledge of all the football we’ve seen in 2016, domestically and internationally to put together our Top 50 of 2016 before agonising over the order.

Of course, there will be many who read the list(s) who disagree with where we’ve ranked some and others that we just haven’t found room for and we are sorry to the many, many talented women we’ve had to leave off but there is simply no room for everyone. With that all being said, here is our VAVEL Top 50 Female Footballers of 2016,

50. Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal/England)

As one of Arsenal’s most creative and naturally gifted outlets, Jordan Nobbs just about makes our list of the top 50 for 2016 after having been side-lined during the year with a recurrence of a hamstring injury.

Although best when left to her own devices to float around the pitch, finding space and linking play, Nobbs has added another dimension to her game this year, growing her understanding of defence, deployed in front of the back-line by both club and country managers. With the ability to be one of the best of her generation, there is still more to come from the Geordie Pirlo.

49. Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars/USWNT)

One of a handful of full-backs to excel in the NWSL this year, Casey Short really stepped up her game in 2016, a year spent with in the Toppserien with Avaldsnes clearly having sharpened her game. Smart in defence and determined in attack Short an unsung hero for the Red Stars this term, an important presence on the pitch, starting every match for Rory Dames’ side as they grew in confidence this year, eventually finishing third in the regular season.

48. Nilla Fischer (VfL Wolfsburg/Sweden)

A mainstay in a Wolfsburg team that’s been there or there abouts since the start of the decade, Nilla Fischer’s finer moments from 2016 came not in Europe but Brazil. An integral part of the Swedish defence that refused to buckle when facing an onslaught from their opponents, a careless loss to Brazil the catalyst for the eventual silver-medallists to bring their defensive abilities to the fore, Fischer a key component of the mean defence.

Her determination and aerial strength making her a vital player at set-pieces, the Swedish centurion has a knack for getting on the scoresheet to scoop decisive points for whoever she plays for.

47. Sari van Veenendaal (Arsenal/The Netherlands)

The second (and last) Gunner on our list is Dutch shot-stopper, Sari van Veenendaal who’s done well to displace both Emma Byrne at Arsenal and Loes Geurts for the Netherlands and cement herself as number one for both club and country.

At over 5’9 van Veenendaal was built to be a ‘keeper but her speedy reflexes and determination are what have pushed her onto our list, calmness personified in an earlier shoot-out against Notts County in the FA Cup saving three of the spot kicks she faced. The keeper coming up trumps in the final to help Arsenal lift the converted silverware for fourteenth a time.

46. Emilie Haavi (LSK/Norway)

In 2016 Emilie Haavi was an instrumental part of the LSK side that secured the double in Norway – for the third straight time. With her 13 goals in 22 league matches, she finished second in the top scorer list, only outdone by her teammate Isabell Herlovsen, who scored a staggering 30 goals.

In all domestic competition for LSK, she scored 21 goals in 26 matches. She was also part of a Norwegian side, who went through their European Qualifying group undefeated. While she hasn’t scored much or the national team, this year, she has still been an important part of setting up the likes of Ada Hegerberg and the aforementioned Herlovsen.

Haavi has been sought after from foreign clubs for a numbers of years, especially by whatever side Matt Beard has been in charge off. He has finally managed to convince her to move abroad, as she’ll be showing off her traits at Boston Breakers in the NWSL next year.

45. Dzsenifer Marozsán (Frankfurt/Olympique Lyonnais/Germany)

An established name in German football Dzsenifer Marozsán has been delighting fans in Germany for a staggering ten years, the 24 year-old still possessing the record for the youngest player to play (and score) in the FBL. Starting the year with FFC Frankfurt, the technically proficient midfielder struggled through the 2015-16 season with injury, her decorated club labouring in the league as well as coming unstuck to VfL Wolfsburg in the UWCL semi-finals.

However, when fully-fit, Marozsán continued to perform to the highest standard, an important cog in the German team that went on to Olympic glory over the Summer before the midfielder moved to Lyon where she’s been going from strength to strength in France. Having been made captain by incoming manager Steffi Jones, Marozsán has already began to evolve how she carries herself on the pitch for Germany, continuing her individual brilliance whilst leading the team.

44. Simone Boye Sørensen (Brøndby IF/Denmark)

Danish defender, and sometimes midfielder, Simone Boye Sørensen has with her leadership qualities, calm defending and overall presence been vital for both Brøndby and the Danish National team. With Brøndby she had to suffer the agony of seeing bitter rivals clinch both the cup and league for the 2015/2016 season, but they have come back and won the regular season of the 2016/2017 season (playoffs start next year) in large part due to Simone Boye.

She has scored eight goals this season alone for Brøndby, which takes her to third on the top scorer chart.  She was also a huge par the Brøndby team, who participated in the Champions League, and her goal against SKN St. Pölten helped clinch a last-16 amtch-up against Manchester City. Here the Citizens ran out as winners with a 2-1 aggregate win, but Boye stood out for the Danes.

She has also been first choice centerback for a Danish side that secured their place at next years European Championship after finishing second in their group after Sweden. During this campaign the Danish defence only let in one goal. Boye finished the year off by scoring in Denmark’s last game against Belgium

43. Guðbjörg Gunnarsdóttir (Djurgårdens IF/Iceland)

Guðbjörg Gunnarsdóttir, or Gugga as she is known, returned back to newly promoted Djurgården, who she represented from 2009 to 2012 ahead of the 2016 Damallsvenskan season. Djurgården had a fine season, that saw them exceeds everyone’s expectations to finish sixth in the table. This was in large part due to Gugga’s fine season in between the post, where she on numerous occasions kept the Stockholm side in the games.

She played all 22 league games or DIF this season, conceding 34 goals. For Iceland, she helped them secure a spot at next year’s European Championship in the Netherlands, when they finished as winners of Group 1 ahead of Scotland. She played all, bar one game, of Iceland’s European qualifiers in 2016, where the highlight was the unexpected 4-0 win over Scotland. In the eight qualifying games, they only conceded twice, and only once in 2016 (final group game against Scotland).

42. Tabitha Chawinga (Kvarnsvedens/Malawi)

The Malawian born forward who shows off her craft week and week out for Kvarnsveden in the Swedish Damallsvenskan has impressed immensely in the past year, and none more so than in 2016. With 15 goals, she broke the Linköping and Rosengård dominance at the top of the scoring charts, by scoring more goals than Marta and Ella Masar, and only being outdone by Linköping’s super duo Pernille Harder and Stina Blackstenius.

Her performance saw her nominated for both forward of the year and most valuable player in the league, however she had to see Harder claim both awards. Nonetheless, it has been a superb year for 20-year old Chawinga, who has already established herself as one of the best players, and attracted interest from other clubs.

41. Tabea Kemme (Turbine Potsdam/Germany)

A consistent performer for Potsdam, Kemme much like her teammates have been quick to throw off a subpar 2015-16 season and find their best in the current season, the 24 year-old a vital component of the team as they push for top spot in the Frauen-Bundesliga. Personally responsible for a third of Turbine’s goals so far this season, Kemme is back to her versatile best, happy to run the channels as a full-back or getting stuck in as a wide attacker, an Olympic gold the cherry on top of a sterling year.