VAVEL UK's top 100 female footballers of 2018: 40-21
Credit: VAVEL UK

VAVEL UK's top 100 female footballers of 2018: 40-21

It’s beginning to look a lot like we’re nearing the end of this countdown

Sophie Lawson

From 100 (100-81, 80-61, 60-41) we’re down to our top 40 and we're kicking off the next part of our countdown with a US international...

40. Julie Ertz – Chicago Red Stars/USA

If you’re looking for consistency, there are few players who can offer it like Julie Ertz, the sometimes midfielder, sometimes defender continues to excel for both Chicago and the USWNT. Moved back to a defensive midfield role last year, a spot that she still occupies for the national team, the 26-year-old remains rock solid for the Red Stars having moved back into a centre-back role.

39. Fran Kirby – Chelsea/England

During the 2017-18 season, particularly over the second half of the campaign, Fran Kirby gave fans a real taste of what she’s capable of when she can stay injury free to have a protracted run in the Chelsea team. Her six goals in 13 league appearances over the 2018 half of last season, caught the imagination of the fans, her return this season – one in eight – has been endemic of a Chelsea team that has looked short of ideas in the final third.

38. Alex Morgan – Orlando Pride/USA

Possibly like Kirby, many will be surprised to see Morgan ranked relatively lowly by our panel but, taking the entire year into account, it’s hard to argue that the 29-year-old has excelled domestically. Contributing five goals in 19 NWSL appearances this season, Morgan hasn’t been able to replicate her fine international form the Pride, her 18 international strikes this year speak from themselves.

37. Lia Wälti – Turbine Potsdam/Arsenal/Switzerland

An unsung hero at Potsdam, Wälti’s move to Arsenal has seen her catapulted into the public eye in the English-speaking women’s football world. A selfless midfielder who ties play together, calmly distributing the ball with pinpoint accuracy as well as providing added cover for the defence, doggedly challenging in the middle of the park.

36. Guro Reiten – LSK/Norway

Much like Ingrid Engen this year, Reiten’s move from Ørn  last season was a smooth one, the flight-footed midfielder integrating with ease into the LSK team. Women’s player of the year in 2017, Reiten has only gotten better this term, picking up her second consecutive PotY award as well as best goal (for her sublime effort against Vålerenga) as well as the golden boot. A potent goalscorer who makes things happen in the attacking third, there is no question that Reiten is one of the rising stars in the Norway team.  

35. Giulia Gwinn – SC Freiburg/Germany

A German U-15 at 13, U-16 and 14 and so on, Gwinn has been performing well beyond her years for some time now, playing with a distinct calm maturity. A constant highlight for Freiburg over a choppy couple of seasons, the teenager has rarely failed to impress in the youthful team. Having made her senior debut for the seniors in October last year (playing 12 minutes against France), 2018 has seen Gwinn chalk up her first goal for the seniors as they rallied against Italy to run out winners last month.

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34. Dzsenifer Marozsán – Olympique Lyonnais/Germany

Not quite having the same dazzling 2017 this year, Marozsán has continued to show her talent whilst struggling with injury and illness. Still a vital component in the Lyon team that slices through defences and ransacks the opposition’s goal, the German’s deft touch with the ball remains one of her greatest assets, from her pinpoint crosses to razor-sharp free kicks.

33. McCall Zerboni – North Carolina Courage/USA

There is no greater testament to Zerboni’s ability than the fears that the Courage’s postseason would be derailed as soon as she was ruled out for the rest of the campaign with a broken elbow in September. Named in the team of the month of four months running from April to July as well as the team of the season, Zerboni does well to embody the classic American athletic style, tireless working for 90 solid minutes each match.

32. Maren Mjelde – Chelsea/Norway

A natural successor to Katie Chapman, Mjelde’s ongoing injury this season has compounded Chelsea’s rudderless looking central midfield, the team clearly feeling the loss of both experienced and cool-headed players. Often seen at centre-back for both club and country, the midfield is where Mjelde excels and when given the freedom to move around the final two thirds of the pitch, the Bergensar with more than a handful of assists up her sleeve.

31. Marie-Antoinette Katoto – Paris Saint-Germain/France

There is little question that the low point of Katoto’s year was her disappointing showing at the U-20 World Cup in France this summer, but either side of the tournament, the Parisian has been in fine form for PSG. Netting 24 goals in as many league appearances (nine in ten and 15 in 13) over the year, there is little that can stop the striker when she’s in full-flow. Having made her first senior appearance for France last month, the onus is on Katoto to impress Corinne Diacre between now and when she picks her squad for the World Cup.

30. Crystal Dunn – North Carolina Courage/USA

Attacker, midfielder, defender, Crystal Dunn does it all, best in attack her speed down the wing, constant drive in attack and selfless defending is reason enough to see her relegated to a back three (or four) in an attacking side. Pairing expertly with the lethal attacking duo of Lynn Williams and Jess McDonald, Dunn’s attacking work has been vital for the Courage this season. The 26-year-old benefiting greatly from a spell with Chelsea, the distance leaving her a player revitalised for the 2018 NWSL season.

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29. Lea Schüller – SGS Essen/Germany

If there is one thing Germany remains consistent in, it’s producing exceptional attacking talents and 21-year-old Lea Schüller is no exception. A player who’s gotten steadily better and better over the last seasons, the attacker reads the game with ease, knowing just when to take a touch and when to pull the trigger, her attacking nous seemingly encoded into her DNA. Part of Essen’s ruthless attacking trio with Turid Knaak and highflying Linda Dallmann, Schüller already looks set to take her place among the likes of Birgit Prinz, Célia Šašić and Inka Grings.

28. Lucy Bronze – Olympique Lyonnais/England

Following her move to French giants, Lyon, Lucy Bronze has already added yet another league title to her collection as well as a coveted Champions League winners medal, the flying fullback flying in France. Offered more room to attack and get forward with more frequency, the 27-year-old making a fast home with the all-conquering OL side.

27. Caroline Graham Hansen – VfL Wolfsburg/Norway

The Norwegian wizard down the Wolfsburg wing, Caroline Graham Hansen has somewhat taken the backseat to fellow attackers Pernille Harder and Ewa Pajor as the two have lit up pitches across Germany this year. However, Graham Hansen has remained inspirational as ever, her effortless partnerships with the teammates enough to see the Wolfsburg team rip open spaces in opposition defences and fire at will. Tricky with the ball on her toe, it’s Graham Hansen’s ability to slalom around defenders with the ball that remains vital for the Wolves.

26. Julia Karlenäs – Piteå IF/Sweden

Julia Karlenäs has had a season to remember. The midfield engine, who scored an impressive 11 league goals, led Piteå to their first ever Swedish league title, with Karlenäs being named the league’s MVP at the Fotbollsgalan, with her fellow players also selecting her for the Damallsvenskan team of the year. The 25-year-old was also rewarded for her fine form this year, by getting her first cap for the Swedish national team.

25. Nikita Parris – Manchester City/England

With 20 league goals in 24 appearances this year, it’s clear Nikita Parris has fully hit her stride, the 24-year-old in fine form for Manchester City both this season and last. After a few bitty seasons, the attacker seems to be in full flow, her determination driving towards goal, vital for the Citizens as they look to push Arsenal to the WSL title this season. Having proven herself to be part of Phil Neville’s plans for the future, Parris’ three goals in as many qualification games are the cherry on top of her impressive 2018.

24. Nilla Fischer – VfL Wolfsburg/Sweden

Chopping and changing her centre-back partnership from one with Babett Peter to one with Lena Gößling after an injury to the former early in the year, Fischer showed her experience as she led the team from the back. Perhaps guilty of inconsistency over her career, there was little Fischer did over 2018 that could invite criticism, the 34-year-old still playing at the top of her game, but with a return to Sweden earmarked for next year, the defender is fast running out of time to add a second Champions League title to her collection.

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23. Katarzyna Kiedrzynek – Paris Saint-Germain/Poland

Katarzyna Kiedrzynek, or as she is known to all who can’t pronounce or spell Kiedrzynek at the drop of a hat, KK, seems to be locked in a perpetual battle for the PSG number one spot with Tiane Endler. With both given a fair amount of games under former boss Patrice Lair as well as new PSG coach, Olivier Echouafni, both have continued to push each other, the Pole continuing her fine form that earned her the #1 shirt in 2014.

22. Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir – VfL Wolfsburg/Iceland

Having fallen right into stop with Wolfsburg when she moved to the Frauen-Bundesliga in 2016, Gunnarsdóttir has had another memorable year as a key player for the double-winning Germans. Although the Iceland captain wasn’t able to lead her nation to their first World Cup appearance, she remained a star performer for Stelpurnar okkar throughout their qualification campaign, showing her calibre on pitches across Europe.

21. Alexia Putellas – Barcelona/Spain

A wizard in both the Spain and Barcelona teams, Alexia’s light touch on the ball is what sees her cut around the pitch with ease, ticking defenders with one-touch passes, the 24-year-old remains as happy to set up her teammates as find the back of the net herself. When Spain are left looking a little flat and in need of inspiration, it’s often the Catalan who provides that spark of magic to turn a tie, the attacker also well able to find a relaxed rhythm with her teammates.