Greatest Female Footballers in the World Right Now

Greatest Female Footballers in the World Right Now

The history behind women’s soccer dates back nearly 130 years and while it has evolved greatly since, that’s not to say it’s been easy for female footballers around the world. In fact, they’ve been met with a fierce amount of inequality, disrespect, and severe lack of opportunity. 

It was Nettie Honeyball that formed the first known women’s football club in 1894 – with 30 others, they called it the British Ladies Football Club. By 1915, with most men fighting in World War I, women’s football gained massive popularity – with some games drawing 50,000+ fans.

Unfortunately, the Football Association (FA) banned women from playing soccer in fear of it taking attention and money away from the men’s game. The English Women’s FA wouldn’t be formed until 1969, which prompted the lifting of the FA ban in 1971 – it was a 50-year ban.

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Who Are the Best Female Footballers in 2022?

Greatest Female Footballers in the World Right Now
Mikolaj Barbanell / Shutterstock

In 2022, female footballers are on the rise and the sport is headed for even greater things in the near future. This is evidenced by the recent emergence of FC Barcelona Femení – finishing the 2021-22 season a perfect 30-0 in league play and winning the Copa de la Reina and Supercup.

There’s also the United States women’s national soccer team, which – for the first time ever – reached an equal pay settlement that will see them paid equally compared to their male counterparts. The National Women’s Soccer League is also setting new attendance records.

Female footballers are in a great place right now and it’ll only continue to get better over time. And while both women and men are instrumental to the growth of the game, the 25 female footballers we’re about to detail below might be some of the most prominent in the world today. 

25. Ji So-Yun

National Team: South Korea

Club Team: Suwon FC (WK League)

Position: Midfielder

2021-22 Stats: 28 matches, 7 goals, 6 assists w/ Chelsea FC

Ji So-Yun is a South Korean midfielder who started her senior career in 2011 with INAC Kobe Leonessa before an eight-year career with Chelsea. She played in over 200 games and scored 68 goals with Chelsea – including a multitude of titles. After the 2021-22 season, she decided to shake things up by signing with Suwon FC in South Korea – her first stint in her home country.

24. Kadeisha Buchanan

National Team: Canada

Club Team: Chelsea FC (WSL)

Position: Centre-back

2021-22 Stats: 32 matches, 3 goals, 1 assist w/ Olympique Lyonnais 

Kadeisha Buchanan is a Canadian defender who started her senior career in 2013 before signing with Lyon in 2017. She spent the past five years with Lyon – her first stint outside of her home country. She had a hell of a year, which included an Olympic gold medal with Canada and a UEFA Women’s Champions League title with Lyon. She recently signed with Chelsea FC.

23. Debinha

National Team: Brazil

Club Team: North Carolina Courage (NWSL)

Position: Forward

2021 Stats: 18 matches, 3 goals, 2 assists w/ Courage

2022 Stats: 7 matches, 3 goals, 1 assist w/ Courage (so far)

Débora Cristiane de Oliveira, who most of us know as Debinha, is a Brazilian forward that played a majority of her senior career in her home country. She has played for the North Carolina Courage of the NWSL since 2017 and is a two-time NWSL champion, three-time NWSL Shield winner, and won the NWSL Challenge Cup in 2022 – she was named MVP.

22. Beth Mead

National Team: England

Club Team: Arsenal FC (WSL)

Position: Forward

2021-22 Stats: 26 matches, 12 goals, 8 assists w/ Arsenal FC

Beth Mead is an English forward who started her senior career in 2011 with Sunderland in the FA Women’s Premier League. She spent six years with the club before signing with Arsenal in 2017. She’s a scoring machine that, while left off of Great Britain’s Olympic team, has been on a tear as of late. She was the club’s Player of the Season in 2022 – quite the accomplishment.

21. Rose Lavelle

National Team: United States

Club Team: OL Reign (NWSL)

Position: Midfielder

2021 Stats: 11 matches, 1 goal, 1 assist w/ OL Reign

2022 Stats: 8 matches, 2 goals, 1 assist w/ OL Reign

Rose Lavelle is an American midfielder who started her senior career while still playing at the University of Wisconsin. She played in the NWSL between 2017 and 2020, spent one season with Manchester City, and returned to the NWSL in 2021. There aren’t many female footballers that can pick apart a defense and create opportunities for teammates better than Lavelle. 

20. Stina Blackstenius

National Team: Sweden

Club Team: Arsenal FC (WSL)

Position: Striker

2021-22 Stats: 22 matches, 11 goals, 1 assist w/ Arsenal

Stina Blackstenius is a Swedish striker who spent the first 10 years of her senior career in her home country. She was a consistent goal scorer everywhere she went, most recently signing with Arsenal on a free transfer. The former handball standout has established quite the power duo with Vivianne Miedema – another player on this list. Blackstenius is only just getting started. 

19. Ashley Lawrence

National Team: Canada

Club Team: Paris Saint-Germain (D1F)

Position: Midfielder, Full-back

2021-22 Stats: 32 matches, 2 goals, 6 assists w/ PSG

Ashley Lawrence is a Canadian full-back who spent four years at West Virginia University – during that time, she also played in the USL W-League and League1 Ontario. She joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, where she has one D1F title, two Coupe de France titles, and runner-up finish at the UEFA Women’s Championship League. She’s a uniquely-talented defender. 

18. Lauren Hemp

National Team: England

Club Team: Manchester City (WSL)

Position: Forward

2021-22 Stats: 31 matches, 18 goals, 10 assists w/ Manchester City

Lauren Hemp is an English forward who started her senior career with Bristol City in 2016. She spent two years with the club before signing with Manchester City in 2018. At just 21 years old, she has her entire career ahead of her – winning the PFA Young Player of the Year this season. You can expect Hemp to continue to climb up this list in the near future. She’s a superstar. 

17. Mapi Leon

National Team: Spain

Club Team: Barcelona (Primera División)

Position: Full-back, Centre-back

2021-22 Stats: 22 matches, 2 goals, 5 assists w/ Barcelona

María Pilar León Cebrián, who most of us know as Mapi Leon, is a Spanish defender who played with Atletico Madrid between 2014 and 2017 before signing with Barcelona. She plays a major role in anchoring her club’s defense. She plays an aggressive style of defense, jumping on any opportunity to gain an offensive advantage. Watch out because she’s as fast as anyone.

16. Christiane Endler

National Team: Chile

Club Team: Lyon (D1F)

Position: Goalkeeper

2021-22 Stats: 28 matches, 14 clean sheets, 15 goals conceded w/ Lyon

Christiane Endler is a Chilean goalkeeper who played three seasons with the University of South Florida. She signed with Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 and spent four years with the club before joining Lyon ahead of the 2021 season. She not only led her team to the D1F title during the 2021-22 season, but Lyon also went on to win the UEFA Women’s Champions League title. 

15. Lieke Martens

National Team: Netherlands

Club Team: Paris Saint-Germain (D1F)

Position: Midfielder

2021-22 Stats: 28 matches, 20 goals, 16 assists w/ Barcelona

Lieke Martens is a Dutch midfielder who played in various different countries between 2009 and 2017 before joining the powerhouse Barcelona. She scored plenty and facilitated opportunities for others as one of the most versatile female footballers in the world. She was a finalist for the UEFA Player of the Year award and recently signed with Paris Saint-Germain in June of 2022. 

14. Irene Paredes

National Team: Spain

Club Team: Barcelona (Primera División)

Position: Centre-back

2021-22 Stats: 36 matches, 5 goals, 2,590 minutes w/ Barcelona

Irene Paredes is a Spanish defender who spent five years with Paris Saint-Germain between 2016 and 2021. She signed a two-year deal with Barcelona in July 2021 and has played a big role in their recent success. She’s cool, calm, and collected with the ball at her feet, helping Barcelona win the Primera Division title, Copa de la Reina title, and Supercopa title in 2021-22.

13. Magdalena Eriksson

National Team: Sweden

Club Team: Chelsea FC (WSL)

Position: Centre-back, left-back

2021-22 Stats: 24 matches, 2 goals, 1,902 minutes w/ Chelsea

Magdalena Eriksson is a Swedish defender who played professionally in her home country between 2011 and 2017 before signing with Chelsea FC. She was named captain of the club in September 2019 and is regarded as one of the best defenders in all of Europe. She helped lead her team to the FA Women’s Super League title and Women’s FA Cup title in 2021-22. 

12. Fran Kirby

National Team: Great Britain

Club Team: Chelsea FC (WSL)

Position: Forward

2021-22 Stats: 23 matches, 8 goals, 11 assists w/ Chelsea

Fran Kirby is an English forward who was dominant in her three years with Reading FC between 2012 and 2015 before signing with Chelsea FC. Since then, she has continued her goal-scoring ways – despite struggling with fatigue as of late. Kirby plays an exciting style of football, placing among the top in both rate of assists and rate of goals and assists per game. 

11. Aitana Bonmati

National Team: Spain

Club Team: Barcelona (Primera División)

Position: Midfielder

2021-22 Stats: 37 matches, 18 goals, 6 assists w/ Barcelona

Aitana Bonmati is a Spanish midfielder who started her senior career with Barcelona in 2014 and has been with the club ever since. She’s only 5-foot-4, but she makes up for it with speed and technique. She’s also only 24 years old, which means she still has a lot of quality football ahead of her. Expect Bonmati to continue playing a large role in Barcelona’s dominant success. 

10. Catarina Macario

National Team: United States

Club Team: Lyon (D1F)

Position: Midfielder, Forward

2021-22 Stats: 36 matches, 26 goals, 8 assists w/ Lyon

Catarina Macario is an American midfielder-forward who played four seasons for Stanford University before signing with Lyon in 2021. She played a partial season in 2020-21 before playing her first full season overseas in 2021-22. She scored nine goals in 13 appearances at the Continental and won the UEFA Women’s Champions title. She’s just 22 years old.

9. Wendie Renard

National Team: France

Club Team: Lyon (D1F)

Position: Centre-back

2021-22 Stats: 26 matches, 5 goals, 2,226 minutes w/ Lyon

Wendie Renard is a French defender who started her senior career with Lyon in 2006 and has been with the club ever since. She has 14 French league titles to her name – a world record – and eight European Cups. Earlier this year, she became the first woman to make 100 Champions League appearances. She’s 31 years old, but showing no signs of slowing down.

8. Jennifer Hermoso

National Team: Spain

Club Team: Pachuca (Liga MX)

Position: Midfielder

2021-22 Stats: 32 matches, 21 goals, 6 assists w/ Barcelona

Jennifer Hermoso is a Spanish midfielder who started her senior career with Atletico Madrid between 2004 and 2010. Since then, she has played for Barcelona (two stints), PSG, and a second stint with Atletico Madrid. She was a part of Barcelona’s storied 2021-22 season, but has recently decided to sign with Pachuca of the Liga MX. She can score as good as anyone.

7. Ada Hegerberg

National Team: Norway

Club Team: Lyon (D1F)

Position: Striker

2021-22 Stats: 28 matches, 17 goals, 7 assists w/ Lyon

Ada Hegerberg is a Norwegian striker who joined Lyon in 2014 and has been with the club ever since. After an injury in 2020, she went on a 21-month absence from football as she embarked on a long recovery process. She went on a tear this season, scoring five goals in Continental and helping Lyon win the D1F title and UEFA Women’s Champions title. She’ll only get better.

6. Marie-Antoinette Katoto

National Team: France

Club Team: Paris Saint-Germain (D1F)

Position: Striker

2021-22 Stats: 33 matches, 32 goals, 7 assists w/ PSG

Marie-Antoinette Katoto is a French striker who began her senior career with Paris Saint-Germain in 2015 and has been with the club ever since. She was just 17 years old when she made her senior debut and while she already has seven years of experience, she’s only 23 years old. She was the D1F top scorer in 2021-22 and was D1F Player of the Month in January.

5. Pernille Harder

National Team: Denmark

Club Team: Chelsea FC (WSL)

Position: Midfielder

2021-22 Stats: 26 matches, 12 goals, 8 assists w/ Chelsea

Pernille Harder is a Danish midfielder who made a name for herself with Linkoping between 2012 and 2016. She then played for Wolfsburg before signing with Chelsea in 2020 – where she plays currently. At the time of her transfer, it was a world record fee for a female footballer. She struggled with a knee injury most of the season, but we saw glimpses of what she’s capable of.

4. Caroline Graham Hansen

National Team: Norway

Club Team: Barcelona (Primera División)

Position: Midfielder

2021-22 Stats: 33 matches, 8 goals, 17 assists w/ Barcelona

Caroline Graham Hansen is a Norwegian midfielder who had a solid three-year stint with Stabæk and five-year stint with VfL Wolfsburg before joining Barcelona in May of 2019. She might not score as much as some of her Barcelona teammates, but she’s one of the primary reasons they score so often. She is regarded as one of the best wing players in the world.

3. Vivianne Miedema

National Team: Netherlands

Club Team: Arsenal (WSL)

Position: Forward

2021-22 Stats: 39 matches, 24 goals, 9 assists w/ Arsenal

Vivianne Miedema is a Dutch forward who played three years with SC Heerenveen and three more with Bayern Munich before signing with Arsenal in May of 2017. She was the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year and scored 24 goals in 39 matches with Arsenal last season. At just 25 years old, get used to seeing her name among the best female footballers in the world. 

2. Sam Kerr

National Team: Australia

Club Team: Chelsea FC (WSL)

Position: Forward

2021-22 Stats: 35 matches, 38 goals, 10 assists w/ Chelsea

Sam Kerr is an Australian forward who jumped between her home country and the United States between 2008 and 2019. She eventually signed with Chelsea FC towards the end of the 2019-20 season and has been with the club ever since. She is the all-time leading scorer for Team Australia and has scored at least 30 goals in each of the past two seasons with Chelsea.

1. Alexia Putellas

National Team: Spain

Club Team: Barcelona (Primera División)

Position: Midfielder

2021-22 Stats: 38 matches, 30 goals, 21 assists w/ Barcelona

Alexia Putellas is a Spanish midfielder who is widely regarded as the greatest female footballer in the world. She joined Barcelona in 2012 and has been with the team ever since – becoming a Barcelona legend in the process. She has more trophies than she has room for and has the second-most appearances and goals scored in Barcelona history. She’s only 28 years old.

Female Footballers Are on Top of the World

We’re excited to see what female footballers have in store for us in the near future. As more superstars emerge across the world, the sport will garner more attention from fans and supporters alike. From there, who knows how popular and profitable the sport could get. 

In fact, the month ahead is about to be extremely exciting with four World Cup Qualifying tournaments starting in the next week – the Africa Women Cup of Nations, CONCACAF W Championship, Oceania OFC Women’s Nations Cup, and the Copa America Feminina. 

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Not only that, but the UEFA Women’s European Championship kicks off on July 6th and will run through July 31st. They don’t call it the most exciting month in women’s soccer for nothing – we’ll see all the best female footballers in the world compete on some of the biggest stages.

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