As Alexia Putellas scooped this year’s Ballon d’Or, there were plenty of standout performers across 2021.
Sam Kerr proved why Chelsea had spent so much to bring her to South London, while Vivianne Miedema continued her remarkable goal-scoring exploits and made history at the Tokyo Olympics.
But as 2022 fast approaches, who are the players to watch out for next year?
From returning faces to rising stars, here are five names to keep an eye on across the world:
Catarina Macario made her debut for Lyon late last season and has shone for the French side ever since.
The 22-year-old was a decorated collegiate player in the United States and attracted the interest of Lyon after scoring 32 goals in 25 games for the Stanford Cardinals in the 2019 Division I season.
At the start of this year, Macario announced she would be foregoing her senior year at Stanford and signed for Lyon on a two and a half year deal.
The American scored five goals in seven league appearances last term and has now established herself as a first-team regular.
This season, Macario is Lyon’s top scorer and has 11 goals in all competitions already.
The Brazilian-born star has also played 12 times for the United States in 2021, scoring three times.
With Lyon currently unbeaten domestically, Macario will no doubt play a huge role in the French side’s quest to regain the Women’s Champions League.
Another American who is developing into a world-class player is Trinity Rodman.
The 19-year-old is the youngest player to ever be drafted in NWSL history and made a huge impact for the Washington Spirit this year.
Rodman, who is the daughter of basketball legend Dennis, registered 12 goals and assists combined in the 2021 season –– the joint-most in the league.
The teenager is yet to be capped by the United States but was named the US Soccer Young Player of the Year and will almost certainly make her debut for the national team in the near future.
Lucy Bronze was named the Best FIFA Women’s Player in December 2020 but has struggled with injuries in 2021.
The English right-back is yet to play for Manchester City this season, following knee surgery that she was forced to have after representing Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics.
But the 30-year-old is set to return from injury in 2022 and could help re-ignite a City side who have struggled so far this campaign.
Read Bronze’s exclusive columns for GiveMeSport Women here:
Arsenal made a number of high-profile signings in the summer but the arrival of Frida Maanum went somewhat under the radar.
The 22-year-old impressed for Linköpings FC in the Swedish league and has made 33 appearances for Norway already.
So far, the midfielder has three WSL goals in eight league starts and has become a vital member of Jonas Eidevall’s side.
With the Gunners still in contention to win the WSL and the Champions League, 2022 could be a special year for Maanum.
Like Bronze, Hegerberg is already a renowned star and was the first-ever recipient of the Women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018.
But the Norwegian has been plagued with injuries since then and missed almost two years of football between January 2020 and November 2021.
The 26-year-old finally returned this November but struggled to re-discover her goal-scoring touch initially.
However, as the year nears its end, Hegerberg has found her form again and has scored six goals in her last five games.
If she continues to play like this, then Lyon could well prove unstoppable in 2022.