VAVEL UK’s Top 100 Female footballers of 2017: 40-31

Featuring ten players from ten different countries

VAVEL UK’s Top 100 Female footballers of 2017: 40-31
Credit: VAVEL UK/Sophie Lawson

Getting down to brass tax, we tip our hat towards players that can be found all across the pitch. (100-91, 90-81, 80-71, 70-61, 60-51, 50-41)

40. Andressa Alves – Barcelona/Brazil

Still just 25-years-old, Brazilian international Andressa Alves needed time to settle at Barcelona after a summer switch from Montpellier in 2016, the attacker enjoying some of her better football when linking with Jenni Hermoso.

A fantastic player when she’s on a song, Andressa can sometimes struggle for consistency much like compatriot Cristiane, both a dream to watch when they’re in full-flow. A master of hold-up play, Andressa’s greatest strength is her ability to spark an attack when her team is behind the ball, her transitional play bar none. Despite struggling with niggly injuries so far this year, Andressa has already matched her tally of seven league goals from last season in half the amount of games and looks set to far surpass her first season total.

39. Steph Catley – Melbourne City/Orlando Pride/Australia

When fully fit, Steph Catley is one of the best left backs in the world on sheer ability alone. Unfortunately for Catley, 2017 has been an injury plagued year for her which only saw her play twice for Australia.

Catley did manage to play in 23 games for her club, the Orlando Pride, and picked up two assists during that time. Although the Pride made the NWSL playoffs where they were knocked out by the Portland Thorns in the semi-final, Catley's overall performances during the season were exceptional. The hope for Catley is that she remains fit in 2018 to show her true potential, however when she was available for selection in 2017, the defender impressed with her reading of the game and her technical ability going forward.

38. Jenni Hermoso – Barcelona/Paris Saint-Germain/Spain

A natural goalscorer, Jenni Hermoso thrives in attacking teams, the Spanish international in her element during her time with Barcelona. Bettering her tally of 24 over the 2015-16 season the following term with a staggering 35 goals for the Catalans – including a particularly rampant day when she fired six past Oiartzun. Her spell in Spain brought to an end over the summer as she left for France to join up with Paris Saint-Germain, her ability on the ball and eye for a pass intended to help a PSG side who’d be feeling the loss of Cristiane.

Yet to fully find her feet in France, Hermoso has continued her fine work for Spain after their shock exit from Euro 2017, the 27-year-old showing her attacking industry in La Roja World Cup qualifiers.

37. Barbara Bonansea – Brescia/Juventus/Italy

Despite Italy’s group-stage exit from Euro 2017, the Azzurre still managed to catch the eye with some of their attacking play, Barbara Bonansea one of the most notable to still have people abuzz after the tournament wrapped up. A player with an unmistakable zest for the game, 26-year-old Bonansea has been delighting audiences at home for since her teens, her time with Brescia bringing about a glut of silverware before her summer move to the newly founded Juventus women’s team.

An attacker with that unmistakable x-factor that all the greats of their sport possess, Bonansea can spark any attack to life, her deft touch and determination a delight to watch.

 

36. Sarah Puntigam – SC Freiburg/Austria

A reliable defensive midfielder, Sarah Puntigam hasn’t always had the best time since opting to leave the Austrian league in 2009, spells in Munich and Luzern doing little to showcase the best of her ability. However, a move to Freiburg in 2014 has seen the 25-year-old tap into her best form, the midfielder frequently flying under the radar in Baden-Württemberg.

A crucial element in Austria’s success over the summer, Puntigam had the honour of being named as player of the match in Austria’s first ever major tournament match. The midfielder starting as she meant to go on, her decisive penalty in the shoot-out against Spain enough to send Austria through to the semi-finals.

35. Guðbjörg “Gugga” Gunnarsdóttir – Djurgården/Iceland

Guðbjörg Gunnarsdóttir has had yet another fine year. The Icelandic keeper was a part of Iceland’s squad for the European Championship, and she, unsurprisingly, ended up playing every single minute for Iceland, making 19 saves according to UEFA. Iceland did not progress from the group stage as they finished last in their group, but Gunnarsdottir did leave a good impression – again. Her impressive displays for her Swedish club Djurgården resulted in a nomination for goalkeeper of the year. A very deserved nomination for a keeper who more than once were pivotal to her team and she was a big part of their sixth place finish. She played 20 league games for DIF, kept six clean sheets, recorded 76 saves and ended up with a 72 % save percentage. She’s a calm and collected keeper with good reflexes whose presence, leadership and experience has been invaluable to DIF this season.

34. Ella Masar – Rosengård

From the brink of retirement to one of the best in Europe in the space of a year, Ella Masar’s career has been on the up ever since the versatile attacker moved to Sweden. In a team that lacked depth, Masar fast became Rosengård’s utility woman, roving about the pitch game after game, sparking across the attack to contain possession or lift the team in attack.

A return of 13 goals in her first season in Malmö matched this year as Masar’s stock has only risen as FCR have lost more and more players, the fiery Illinoisan again lively across the entire length of the pitch this year. Her exhaustive runs across the park and knack of finding goals out of nothing, spurring Rosengård on during some of their tougher spells, Masar’s form truly vintage.

33. Guro Reiten – LSK/Norway

When LSK signed Guro Reiten from Trondheims-Ørn, they knew they were getting a good player but there’s little chance many in Norway could have anticipated the season the 23-year-old has had this year.

An attacking player in an attacking team, Reiten didn’t just create for LSK but routinely put the ball in the back of the net for the Toppserien champions, finishing the season as the top goalscorer in the league with 18 goals. Scooping not just the golden boot but Midfielder of the Year as well as Player of the Year, 2017 also saw a return to the Norway senior team for the Sunndalsøra native. A consistent feature since Martin Sjögren took over, Reiten has been used more and more, the midfielder carving out a name for herself in European football.

 

32. Faith Ikidi – Piteå/Nigeria

Over the years, the Swedish Damallsvenskan has been home to a number of great centrebacks and Faith Ikidi is up there with the best of them, and this season she has arguable been one of the best, if not the best defender in Sweden. This year, Piteå once again finished fourth in the league and Ikidi has been a big part of establishing PIF as a contender to count on when the medals has to be given out. Nominated as the best defender at the Swedish Football Awards, Ikidi eventually lost out to Swedish international, Jessica Samuelsson.

One of the first names on the team-sheet, Ikidi played every second for Piteå this season and was key in PIF’s defensive rigidity, the Northern most team in Damallsvenskan boasting the fewest goals conceded over the course of the year.

31. Anouk Dekker – Montpellier/Netherlands

Better known to fans of Dutch and French football as a midfielder who likes to get forward in attack, 2017 has seen Anouk Dekker take up a former role in the back line for the Netherlands. Converted from a midfielder to a centreback early in the year, Dekker remained a central defender throughout the Euros under new coach Sarina Wiegman, the midfielder playing every minute for the hosts as they went the tournament unbeaten only conceding three goals in 540 minutes.

Having taken plaudits for her defensive duty, the rest of the year Dekker has been at home in Montpellier’s midfield, a key part of the French team as they finished second in Division 1 Féminine over the 2016-17 season. Reliable and consistent for MHSC, Dekker has continued to feature prominently for La Paillade this season as they vie for another top-two finish.