We continue our countdown of the top 100 footballers of the year with a young Australian who’s spent most of the year in Japan… (100-91, 90-81)
80. Caitlin Foord – Sydney FC/Mynavi Vegalta Sendai Ladies/Australia
Last year’s AFC Women’s Footballer of the Year, Caitlin Foord has continued her football education this term, moving to the Nadeshiko League to join up with Mynavi Vegalta Sendai Ladies. A technically proficient attacker, Foord is at her best when given the space to charge down the wing and open the game up for her team, still just 23, it’s clear Foord can only get better.
79. Jess Carter – Birmingham City
A familiar name to those who follow WSL, 20-year-old Jess Carter remains one of the most promising defensive talents in England, having finally worked herself up to the fringes of the senior England team. Although Carter can play most anywhere in the first two thirds of the pitch, she’s usually found in a full-back role, running the channels all game long whether getting back to protect her goalkeeper or bombing on in attack the young defender ends up everywhere during a match. Although Marc Skinner’s Birmingham City have struggled for the consistency they’d have liked this season, Carter has remained one of their brightest sparks on the pitch.
78. Maren Mjelde – Chelsea/Norway
Known to fans around Europe as a utility defender, Maren Mjelde has been frequently found filling the vacant centre-back role for Norway (and occasionally, Chelsea) but the Norwegian captain is far better when deployed in midfield. Really able to affect play in a more anchoring role, Mjelde moves from one end of the pitch to the other with ease when given the freedom to roam, whether driving forward or giving extra cover to the defence, Mjelde excels in all that she does.
77. Mari Paz Vilas – Valencia/Spain
It’s a snowy day in hell if Mari Paz doesn’t score in a Liga Iberdrola match, the Galician striker is formidable in front of the net and is quick to turn the slightest opportunity into a goal. Valencia has been her team since 2013 and she is a key player in the side’s attacking dynamic, scoring 85 goals for Las Ches as well as 13 goals in 6 games for Spain. She finished the 2016-2017 season in 3rd place with 28 goals. Upon returning to the Spanish national team in 2012, Paz set a new scoring record in the UEFA Women’s Euro competition; netting a whopping seven goals in Spain’s 13-0 victory over Kazakhstan in a qualifying match – the record still stands today.
76. Lynn Williams – North Carolina Courage/USWNT
One of the stand-outs from the 2016 NWSL season, Lynn Williams has continued to impress this year, the upheaval of the Western New York Flash brand to Cary to become the North Carolina Courage doing nothing to affect her on-field levels. At her best when combining with teammate Jess McDonald, Williams has a superb eye for goals, her relentless hounding of defences across the US and important part of the Courage’s susses.
75. Jordan Nobbs – Arsenal/England
Arsenal stalwart Jordan Nobbs continues to be one of the most impressive English midfielders currently playing, her reading of the game some of the best seen in an England shirt in recent times. A perpetual mover on the pitch, Nobbs’ movement and raw ability to find and create space remains one of Arsenal’s greatest weapons, the diminutive midfielder a real live-wire in WSL.
74. Caroline Weir – Liverpool/Scotland
Another player who has excelled and showed her quality on the pitch as her team has sagged this year is Liverpool’s Caroline Weir. At the tender age of 22, the Scot is consistently evolving as a player, the talented attacker one of the most dangerous in WSL, creating goals from nothing and terrorising defences around England. Her goal for Scotland against Spain only the second scored by the British team at a major tournament – the first coming in the previous match for Erin Cuthbert – but the first goal to bag her country a Euro championship win.
73. Christiane Endler – Valencia/Paris Saint-Germain/Chile
Liga Iberdrola Goalkeeper of the Year, Christiane Endler has played for the likes of Everton [de Viña del Mar] and Chelsea but has often struggled to find stability and spent her earlier career yo-yoing between these clubs as well as Colo-Colo where she has played in three separate stints. A dual national of Chile and Germany, the Chilean captain joined Valencia for the 2016-17 season and quickly established herself as a formidable goalkeeper in Liga Iberdrola.
Boasting a phenomenal record last season – conceding just nine goals in the 2070 minutes that she played (the equivalent of one goal scored against her every 230 minutes) – the Chilean earned herself a coveted move to Paris Saint-Germain but has, so far, been unable to dislodge Katarzyna Kiedrzynek as the number one. Her transfer from Valencia to PSG creating history in the Spanish women’s football league as she became the first player to move out of Spain as a paid transfer – the French club handing over €30,000 in exchange
72. Mandy Islacker – FFC Frankfurt/Bayern Munich/Germany
Consistently one of the most prolific strikers in the Frauen-Bundesliga, Mandy Islacker finished the 2016-17 season as the top goalscorer in Germany for the second year running, her goals for Frankfurt invaluable. With a variety of goals in her locker, Islacker roams around the attacking third scoring from all angles and ranges, her link-up play with Jackie Groenen at Frankfurt particularly profitable. Not quite firing with the same frequency for new club, Bayern Munich, Islacker still continues to possess a goal-threat every time she takes to the pitch.
71. Alexia Putellas – Barcelona/Spain
At 23-years-old, Alexia Putellas has been a key player for Barcelona since 2012 and the Spanish national team since 2013. Her passing vision and ability to create linking play makes her an ideal attacking midfielder well suited to wearing the #10 shirt, however, for the past few seasons she has been played as a winger at Barça to accommodate Jenni Hermoso playing as a false nine with Andressa Alves playing the ten behind Jenni.
With Hermoso having made the summer-switch to PSG, Fran Sanchez has been able to redeploy Alexia in attacking midfield where she’s been flourishing once more. Left-footed Alexia is a master of one-touch pass and move, her deft footwork enough to see her break through defenders to either score or create a scoring chance for other teammates.
Come back on Sunday for the next ten...