Continuing our countdown of the best footballers of the year, we resume with a Belgian playing in Germany… (100-91, 90-81, 80-71)
70. Tessa Wullaert – VfL Wolfsburg/Belgium
The inaugural winner of Belgium’s Female Footballer of the Year (Gouden Schoen), 24-year-old Tessa Wullaert is one of, if not, the best known Belgian female footballer. A clearly talented teen, Wullaert started life out at Zulte Waregem before moving to the Standard Liege team that ruled supreme in Belgium (with a brief stop-over in Anderlecht), the attacker given the room to develop her game before earning an eye-catching move to VfL Wolfsburg. Not always the first name on the team-sheet, the rangy Belgian has had to earn her minutes in one of the most competitive and star-studded teams in Europe, her increased time on the pitch and glut of assists doing enough to speak for the Tielt native.
69. Vicky Losada – Barcelona/Spain
Known to fans around the world after stints in the US with the Western New York Flash and the WSL with Arsenal, Vicky Losada is unquestionably at her best when in the familiar blue and red of Barcelona. Thriving in an attacking team, Losada is the spine that connects the head to the feet, the player to make sense of a talented yet muddled Spain team when they unravel on the pitch. Having struggled with injuries all year long, Losada has yet to hit her high for this year, the glimmers and flashes of what she’s produced when on the pitch, a nod to her true capabilities.
68. Hasret Kayikçi – SC Freiburg/Germany
As Jens Scheuer’s Freiburg have risen through the ranks in Germany so has Hasret Kayikçi, the talented 26-year-old at her best when linking with club and international teammate, Lina Magull. Following on in the great tradition of Germans with an eye for goal, Kayikçi’s persistent goal scoring saw the Heidelberg native bag an impressive 12 goals over the 2016-17, the attacker already having found the back of the net seven times since the summer.
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67. Meggie Dougherty Howard – Washington Spirit
For the Washington Spirit, the 2017 NWSL season did not end the way they would have wanted. The Spirit finished dead last in the league but one of the players that did stand out for them was Megan Dougherty-Howard. The midfielder finished with one goal and one assist in her rookie season but her consistency and ability to read the game from her spot in midfield earned her recognition on our list this year. She may not be on the USWNT radar yet but if she continues her development at the rate that she is currently at, it won’t be long before the calls become loud for her to get a look in during a senior team camp.
66. Sonia Bermúdez – Atletico Madrid/Spain
For anyone familiar with Spanish football, it won’t be a surprise to see 33-year-old Sonia Bermúdez on our list, the attacking stalwart having had another fine year in Liga Iberdrola, her 32 goals contributing to Atletico Madrid’s second league title. A player who still chases about the pitch like someone in their early twenties, Bermúdez’ work ethic is enviable and it’s clear to see her absence was felt over the summer as Spain made an early exit at Euro 2017.
65. Casey Short – Chicago Red Stars/USA
In her second season back with the Chicago Red Stars, Casey Short has developed into a well-rounded fullback, an impressive season saw Short earn a spot in the NWSL’s Best XI as well as being nominated for Defender of the Year.
With no major international fixtures for the USWNT, 2017 has proved a prime opportunity for Short to break into the squad having made her debut late in 2016. However, the most pertinent performances were seen in the NWSL. The defender led the Red Stars from the back, playing a leading role in maintaining an impressive defensive record in the 2017 season. Additionally, Short has fine-tuned her attacking prowess as she was able to find the net when it was most crucial – to send Chicago through to the NWSL Championship play-offs.
64. Tameka Butt – Klepp/Brisbane Roar/Australia
Tameka Butt joined Toppserien side Klepp ahead of the 2017 season and has been in scintillating form this term. The Australian scored 14 league goals for Klepp and was instrumental in helping the Tractor Girls finish fourth in the league, surpassing the expectations many had. Her displays for Klepp also saw her nominated for both midfielder and player of the year. She had a fine year with Australia too, as they came out top at the Tournament of Nations, besting Brazil, Japan and the USA. Butt’s lone goal against the USWNT was enough to see Australia finally beat the current world champions, a first-time feat that had been 12 years and 27 matches in the making.
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63. Jessica Samuelsson – Linköping/Arsenal/Sweden
One of the world’s best right-backs, Jessica Samuelsson started the year with Linköping, her continued solid performances for the Swedish champions saw Arsenal swoop for her this summer. Unfortunately for Samuelsson and Arsenal the Swede sustained a serious injury when she was away with the national team meaning she only managed a scant handful of appearances for her new club this year. She excels in her defensive play, but has often been described as a yoyo down the right flank as she can be seen constantly running up and down contributing brilliantly in both ends. Long considered one of the best players Sweden has, she has been a guaranteed starter for Blågult for some time, her year capped off in November as she was awarded best defender at the Swedish Football Awards.
62. Kristin Demann – TSG Hoffenheim/Bayern Munich/Germany
Another solid season with Hoffenheim saw Kristin Demann not just capped for Germany and on the plane to the Netherlands which saw her start all four of Germany’s games at the Euros but also a summer move to Bavaria to sure up Bayern Munich’s back line. An astute defender who reads the game well, Demann is rarely phased, remaining calm throughout the match to mark the advancing attackers and protect her goalkeeper, the defender well at home in front of the backline too.
61. Andrine Hegerberg – Birmingham City/Norway
It’s often said that defensive-minded midfielders don’t get their rightful praise, and this is arguably true of Andrine Hegerberg, the 24-year-old usually taking the backseat to her younger sister, Ada. Deployed in two different places on the pitch, each playing in their respective leagues seeing different levels of success, there is no logical way of comparing the two players. However, as the younger sister remains vital to a Lyon team who routinely dominate every competition they take part in, the older of the two Hegerbergs plays and equally important role for a Birmingham City team who’ve had little in the way of luck in finals in recent times.
Breaking up play in front of the Blue’s defence, Hegerberg excels with the ball at her feet, her range of passing impressive, the midfielder regularly doubling as a deep-lying playmaker to set her team on their way. Frequently involved in both setting up and preventing goals, the Norwegian midfielder has undoubtedly been one of the best if not, overlooked, players of the year.