2019 has felt somewhat like a turning point for women's football in the sense of fan engagement, accessibility, financial backing and so on, it's established itself as a pivotal moment in the history of the game.
As we see out this year and welcome in 2020, it's time to take a look back and pick out our top 10 players who have stood above the rest in the last 12 months.
Without further ado...
10. Crystal Dunn
There's a handful of names that would be a generic pick for the best players on USA's stacked side, and without fail Crystal Dunn doesn't always make the cut despite truly being one of their best players. She is one of a few players in the world who can confidently command two positions (sometimes even three) to the highest possible quality. This year she became a two-time NWSL Champion with North Carolina Courage proving influential as a playmaking midfielder - ending the season with 7 goals and 4 assists in just 13 games.
Dunn was among perhaps the top three players most important to the USA side who went back-to-back in the summer at the World Cup. The transition from attack to defence was almost seamless and while doubts were voiced over how she'd cope against France and England in their respective games, Dunn stepped up and delivered tournament defining performances to help her team secure yet another World Cup title.
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9. Dzsenifer Marozsán
Dzsenifer Marozsán is just one of those players who is a true joy to watch play football and is, without a doubt, one of - if not the - best #10 to ever play the game. The German international ended last season with 10 goals and 6 assists in 15 games, netted in the Champions League final and looked set to play a key role for Germany going into the World Cup. An injury early on in the tournament left her on the side-lines and all she could do was watch on as Germany fell short to Sweden to crash out in the quarter-finals.
Her club form since returning from the World Cup has been staggering - with 7 goals and 11 assists in just 12 games, she's on course for one of her best ever seasons. Marozsán is a generational talent - her ability to work intricately in tight spaces, her vision to find teammates, movement on and off the ball are all defining factors in her game; along with exceptional link-up play. When all eyes were on a historic fixture between England and Germany in November, she stepped up and delivered a truly world-class performance, vital in securing the win late on. Even when she's not directly involved, she is consistently dictating games like no other player can or ever has.
8. Amel Majri
If there was ever any question about it, Majri's dominating display at the Women's World Cup this summer cemented her place as one of the best left-backs in the world. She is the embodiment of a modern full-back whose defensive ability is not compromised by her impressive attack-minded play. But, much like Dunn, Majri is incredibly versatile and is able to play effortlessly along the wing as she demonstrates for Lyon - often used as an LW/LM but making appearances at LB too.
Majri finished the 18/19 season with 14 goals and 12 assists across all competitions - and this season she has picked up exactly where she left off, already scoring 3 goals and recording 6 assists in just 11 starts. In short, Majri is one of those wonderfully understated players who, despite being highly rated, can sometimes fly under the radar when the best in the world are being discussed.
7. Griedge Mbock Bathy
Griedge Mbock is often in the shadow of club and country defensive partner Wendie Renard, with the latter often taking the plaudits. There's no question Mbock has hugely developed in playing next to Renard and being able to build a defensive partnership; but, as demonstrated in the World Cup and numerous times for the club, Mbock has quietly surpassed her teammate. At just 24, she has already established herself as one of the best defenders in the game.
Last season, Mbock and Lyon kept an impressive 15 clean sheets out of a potential 25 across all competitions - this season they've already kept 13 in 15 games. This is largely due to their nature to dominate games, but an alert defence when called upon. Mbock is cool, calm and collected in any situation on the pitch and a phenomenal reader of the game. She plays beyond her years and it's hard to believe she's this good before she's even reached her peak yet.
6. Ada Hegerberg
Despite Heather O'Reilly throwing into question her qualifications to be recognised as one of the best in the world due to her international absence, Hegerberg remains unphased as she continues to dominate as one of the best forwards in football. It's easy to forget that Hegerberg is still just 24 with room to grow and improve. She finished last season with 20 goals and 11 assists in 20 games; proof of her developing game as she's able to not only score goals but also be the creative mastermind behind them.
Barcelona fans look away now - because arguably one of the most memorable moments in women's football this year has got to be Hegerberg's devastating 16-minute hat-trick in Lyon's dismantling of Barcelona in the Champions League final no less, going on to secure a staggering 6th UWCL title for Lyon. The Norwegian has already continued her fine domestic form this season, netting 14 times in 12 league games, along with 5 assists. Featuring internationally isn’t the be-all and end-all of recognising talent, even less so when you're Ada Hegerberg.
5. Julie Ertz
Julie Ertz comes in at a roaring second to Henry when it comes to best defensive midfielders in the game. From breaking out at the 2015 World Cup in a centre-back role to the heart and soul of the United States soccer team, Ertz stood head and shoulders above most of her teammates at the World Cup this summer and yet still somehow missed out on a Ballon d'Or nomination. She was equally at the centre of Chicago Red Stars' impressive run to the NWSL final, missing out to North Carolina Courage by a landslide.
Such is the case with defensive players, Ertz isn't recognised for her goal contributions but rather her prevention of them. She often occupies a deep-lying role between the midfielders, sitting in front of the defenders and making it difficult for teams to operate effectively between the lines. She's one of the most tactically astute players in the game and can effortlessly adapt her play to suit any situation - just like she did to nullify the threat of Vivianne Miedema in the World Cup final. It's no Ballon d'Or, Julie Ertz, but we appreciate you.
4. Pernille Harder
It almost feels criminal that due to Denmark's absence at the World Cup this year, Pernille Harder has taken a fall in rankings - but it's safe to say her domestic performances year-round make up for missing out on that month. Harder is one of those elite players who just makes the game look so easy, even when she's pulling off the most ridiculous of first touches. Last season the Wolfsburg was made up of Harder, Graham Hansen and Pajor and was arguably the deadliest in Europe, bar Lyon. The Danish forward ultimately finished that season with 18 goals in just 21 games.
What's more impressive is that, in just 12 games in the 19/20 season, Harder has already equalled her season's best from last season with yet another 18 goals in the league alone, bagging a further 5 in the Champions League in just 4 games. She's also scored 5 goals and recorded 2 assists in Denmark's current Euros Qualifying campaign. To put it simply, there is no conversation about the best player in the world that could ever not include Pernille Harder.
3. Amandine Henry
To summarise in one sentence: Amandine Henry is the best #6 in women's football right now. It would be easy to tell you that last season Henry bagged 4 goals and 4 assists in 18 games, or that this year she's scored in 3 of the 11 games she has already played which, for a defensive midfielder, is undoubtedly impressive. But Henry's game is an accumulation of so much more than that; while it's no secret she has a fierce strike in her locker, it's her work rate elsewhere that earns her well-deserved plaudits amongst viewers.
While viewers are often looking for those moments of magic, the moments we immediately want to see over and over again, Henry is elsewhere on the field doing the 'ugly' stuff - regaining possession, flying into tackles, tracking back and such. The French international is relied upon for both club and country to drop back when they are attacking, sitting in front of the backline in a bid to deter any potential counter attacks - a role she excels inconsistently. You will struggle to find a better defensive midfielder in football.
2. Caroline Graham Hansen
Remarkably, Caroline Graham Hansen was among the likes of Ertz and Mbock in being snubbed for a Ballon d'Or nomination. There is perhaps no better playmaker in football right now than Graham Hansen and her numbers are a damning indication of just how good she is. She finished her 18/19 campaign with Wolfsburg having scored 14 goals and providing 29 assists in 33 games. Twenty. Nine. Assists. That's just a little mind-blowing. She was also at the heart of an impressive World Cup run for Norway, who could only manage a quarter-final defeat to England following a dramatic shootout with Australia in the previous round.
With her first-ever World Cup experience under her belt, Graham Hansen jetted off to Spain to start a new chapter in her career with Barcelona. Her impact with instant and with the absence of the injured Lieke Martens, Barcelona needed it to be. CGH ends 2019 with 6 goals and 10 assists in 12 appearances for her new club. For context - she's joint top in assists for 2019 despite only joining this season. Much like Harder, Graham Hansen just makes football look so easy - particularly in the way she's able to weave in and out of defenders as though they're not there, allowing her to get into dangerous positions going forward. While decision-making and the end product is something her game needs to work on, at just 24 there's no doubt that soon enough she'll be seriously considered one of the best players in the world.
Aaaaand drum roll, please...
1. Vivianne Miedema
All things considered, there's only one player who could take my top spot for 2019 and it is, of course, Vivianne Miedema. At just 22-years-old, Miedema's numbers are quite unbelievable. Last season's record-breaking goal tally was key in Arsenal's charge for the title, scoring 22 goals and assisting 10 in 20 games. Fast-forward to this season and in the league and UWCL alone, Miedema has netted 24 times and assisted 8 in 13 games. Yes, you read that correctly - 24 goals in 13 games across two competitions.
That's mightily impressive on its own, but she also scored some important goals in the Netherlands' World Cup run which saw them reach the final, only to be beaten by the USA. Perhaps the most memorable goals coming against Cameroon which saw her become the Netherlands' all-time top goalscorer - to which I feel the need to reiterate once again that she is just 22-years-old. Miedema's awareness both on and off the ball is an integral part of her game and while some strikers rely on the creativity of others, the Dutch forward edges ahead in her ability to become the creator as well as the goal scorer. She is perhaps the most well-rounded striker in football at the minute and is destined to be one of the greatest we have ever seen. Personal accolades mean very little to Vivianne Miedema, but we're still happy for her to take our top spot for this year.
And while that about concludes our top 10 for 2019 - but we couldn't leave before giving out some honourable mentions. The likes of Debinha, Pajor, Hermoso, Endler and Dahlkemper were all worthy candidates to make the top 10 but just miss out for us this time around. The same goes for White and Kerr who - while they had impressive goal-scoring campaigns - just didn't quite cut it amongst some of the other attackers on the list.
Until next year!News Now - Sport News