VAVEL Top 50 Female Footballers of 2016: 40-31
Image credit: VAVEL/Football Renders

VAVEL Top 50 Female Footballers of 2016: 40-31

The NWSL is home to three of our next batch of footballers, counting down from 40-31

Sophie Lawson

Continuing on from Monday's run down of 50-41, we pick up where we left off at 40 and we're back off to the Damallsvenskan... 

40. Magdalena Eriksson (Linköping/Sweden)

Eriksson has had a memorable 2016. She won Olympic Silver with Sweden in August, and in November she was crowned Swedish Champions with Linköping, after going through the season undefeated. Before the season she was named captain of Linköping, and she has played 21 league games for the club this season. As a captain, she led a defence that only allowed 14 goals in 22 games.

She got on the scoresheet twice in the league, and remarkably enough, both goals were directly on a corner. As a centre-back she has six assists to her name, which highlights her excellent passing and corner taking abilities. At the Olympics she started all three group matches, before becoming a sub in both the quarterfinal and the final.

She got her first goal for the national team in a 6-0 victory over Scotland back in January, and in the historic game against Iran in October, she got a first half hat-trick, where all the goals came off corners delivered by Olivia Schough. She ended the NT year by starting in Sweden’s match against Norway, which ended 0-0.

39. Jenni Hermoso (Barcelona/Spain)

Now in her third season with Barcelona the explosive Spanish forward picked up the golden boot in the 2015-16 season of the Primera División, contributing 24 of Barca’s 98 last term, a second-placed finish enough for a fifth successive season in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Although more of a ten than an orthodox number nine, Hermoso is known for being deadly in the box, her lone goal at home to FC Twente in this season’s edition of the UWCL going semi-viral after being uploaded, her light touch and beautiful arced finish a perfect example of her exemplary talents in front of goal.

Well integrated into Barcelona’s system, Hermoso has carved out a starting role in the Spanish side and will be looking to make her name more widely known after next summer’s European Championships and will certainly be a player for fans in Group D to watch.

38. Zsanett Jakabfi (Wolfsburg/Hungary)

As Wolfsburg’s second oldest serving player, Jakabfi has become a trusted regular in Ralf Kellermann’s squad, adept at playing in most attacking roles from the midfield forward the Hungarian international has been stealing the spotlight this year in the UWCL, netting eight times in four outings as well as bagging an assist too. All too reliable in cup competitions in 2016, Jakabfi was instrumental in Wolfsburg clinching their third DFB-Pokal title, scoring both as Wolfsburg bested SC Sand 2-1.

A vital member of the Wolfsburg core, Jakabfi has kept a consistent level during her time in Lower Saxony and doesn’t look to be slowing down.

37. Janine Beckie (Houston Dash/Canada)

Although Janine Beckie had a solid season in her first year playing NWSL football, the offensive starlet possibly became over-shadowed at the Dash with other break-through attackers on the pitch but her hard work and consistent form made her one of Randy Waldrum’s key players during the start of the season.

That was apparent even as the team struggled to find its’ footing. Her 2016 more memorable for her starring role for Canada at the Rio Olympics, the 22-year-old used her Summer with Canada to stand up and be counted, her football screaming, “I’m here to terrorise your defence, eh.”

36. Steph Catley (Melbourne City/Orlando Pride/Australia)

Still just 22, Steph Catley brings a great maturity to her work on the pitch, having started her club career at just fifteen, the determined defender went down in NWSL history this year, becoming the first ever player to score for newly founded Orlando Pride on her debut for the club.

Having struggled with injury during the year, Catley managed to rack up a considerable amount of time on the pitch and still maintain a high standard of football, although arguably not at 100% or her best, or judges were still completed to rate the Matilda highly for her strength and determination on the pitch.

35. Sherida Spitse (LSK/The Netherlands)

The Dutch midfielder has had a cracking year, both personally and with her club. With LSK she has claimed the double in a season where she scored 10 goals in 22 games, which means she finished third in the top scorer charts, just outdone by her LSK teammates Emilie Haavi (13) and Isabell Herlovsen (30).

A good percentage of those were cracking efforts from distance. Adding to her ten goals in the league, she scored the all important opening goal in extra time in the Norwegian cup final, which eventually finished 2-0 to LSK over Røa.

34. Eugénie Le Sommer (Olympique Lyonnais/France)

Now in her seventh season with Lyon, Eugénie Le Sommer enjoyed another successful club season with the fourteen time champions, netting a healthy ten goals throughout the 2015-16 season as well as racking up nine assists.

Although not as potent in front of goal as teammates Ada Hegerberg (33) or Lotta Schelin (14) and not just as high up the assist rankings as Camille Abily (13) or Louisa Nécib Cadamuro (11), Le Sommer is a consistent performer for the imperious French side who may not always get as much of the plaudits as her teammates but remains a key member of Les Lyonnaises.

2016 also saw Le Sommer collect her third UWCL winners medal with Lyon, the French striker notching five goals en route to the final.

33. Claudia Neto (Linköping/Portugal)

Claudia Neto has had a year to remember. She was an important piece for the Linköping team that were crowned Swedish Champions and her goals in the European qualifiers for Portugal against Finland and Ireland was vital in ensuring Portugal playoff games, which they eventually won.

In a line-up consisting of names like Pernille Harder and Stina Blackstenius, other tends to be forgotten. However, Neto has been a key player for a Linköping side that went the season unbeaten. Her hard work, vision and passes in midfield is what allows players like harder and Blackstenius to shine, and she is often, by her team-mates, mentioned as the player that makes it all happen.

As a captain for Portugal, she stepped up when they needed it the most. Back in September, Portugal needed a win against Finland, to ensure that they would still have a chance at qualifying for the European Championship. Portugal went down 2-0 in the first half, but Neto cancelled this out by scoring a hat-tick, effectively keeping Portugal in the raise for the Euros. Adding tot his, she also scored the 1-0 winner against Ireland in the next game, which guaranteed Portugal the playoff game against Romania.

32. Mandy Islacker (Frankfurt/Germany)

A prolific striker, Frankfurt have been able to rely on Mandy Islacker for much needed goals this year, the rarely capped Germany international finishing the 2015-16 Bundesliga season as the clear top goalscorer, her 17 goals far better than Vivianne Miedema’s 14. Her potency in front of goal for the Frankfurters has been vital so far this season too, netting eight goals in eight apps.

Starting to make in rows in the national team, Islacker was one of the small group taken to the Olympics by departing coach Silvia Neid although she managed little more than 95 minutes on the pitch. The signs more hopeful under new manger Steffi Jones, as the Essen-native has featured in both training camps as well as netting a brace against the Netherlands in her first match under Jones.

31. Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash/USWNT)

After a promising collegiate career it took Kealia Ohai a while to find her feet in the NWSL and after a slow to start the year with the Dash everything began to fall into place for the Utah-native over the Summer

Where she may have struggled with her final pass or clinical finish, Ohai took to the pitch in July like a new woman, moving up through the gears, vastly influential as the team began to find their rhythm in the season. Seemingly unable to do no wrong, Ohai began scoring for fun, ably assisted in attack by the likes of Rachel Daly, Janine Beckie, Denise O’Sullivan as the Dash began to inch up the table.

Her exploits for Houston earned her a senior call-up, capping the year off with a debut goal for the USWNT just 48 seconds after taking to the pitch.