The recent growth in women’s soccer has further led to the emergence of a generation of superstars. In this feature, we are going to look at the best women’s soccer players in 2021.
The rise in popularity of women’s soccer has been quite evident in the last couple of decades. The FIFA Women’s World Cup only made its debut in 1991, but since then, it has become one of the most popular tournaments in the sports industry. According to the estimates, the official broadcast of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, held in France, was viewed by a combined 1.12 billion viewers.
Furthermore, in the last decade, professional women’s soccer has received a significant boost with the popularity of prominent women’s soccer leagues such as WSL, NWSL, Frauen-Bundesliga, Division 1 Féminine, and more. There is still a long way to go for women’s soccer, but the situation is rapidly improving. The 2021-22 season marked a landmark moment for women’s soccer, as for the first time in women’s soccer, a league (FA WSL) signed a broadcast deal with major TV networks such as BBC and Sky Sports.
Best Women’s Soccer Player (Voted By Our Readers)
Current Team: Chelsea FC
Age: 26 years
Reported Salary in 2021: $500,000 (USD)
Sam Kerr is the Australia women’s soccer team captain and plays for Chelsea in FA WSL. She was born in East Fremantle, a suburb of Perth, and she started her career at 15. She is known for her speed, skills, and athleticism.
Former Perth Glory striker Bobby Despotovski spotted Kerr at the age of 13. She made her professional debut for the same side in W-League at 15. Over the next decade, Kerr also played for Sydney FC, Western New York Flash, Sky Blue F.C., and Chicago Red Stars. In 2019, she joined Chelsea ahead of the second half of the season. In 2020-21, she led the Blues to the WSL title as she was the leading goalscorer and the leading assist provider.
Furthermore, she has won the W-League title with both Perth Glory and Sydney FC and NSWL shield with Western New York Flash.
She is also the first player in women’s soccer to win Golden Boot in three different leagues, and the first Australian to score a hat-trick in a soccer World Cup, men or women. She is definitely the best women’s soccer player in Australia.
Current Team: North Carolina Courage
Age: 28 years
Reported Salary in 2021: $247,500 (USD)
Samantha June Mewis, also known as Sam Mewis, is a professional female footballer from the United States of America. She currently plays for North Carolina Courage in NWSL and also represents the American national team. Mewis played for UCLA Bruins at the college level. She made her professional debut for Pali Blues in W-League in 2013. In 2015, she was selected by Western New York Flash in the draft, and in 2017, she moved to North Carolina Courage. She moved out of the U.S. for the first time when she joined Manchester City in 2020, but she moved back to North Carolina in 2021.
Mewis has lifted three NSWL titles so far, and she was a part of the U.S. team that won the 2019 World Cup and the Bronze at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She was also selected as U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year in 2020.
She is a well-rounded midfielder and is known for her dribbling ability. She is as efficient in winning the ball in midfield as progressing it up the pitch.
Current Team: Arsenal
Country: The Netherlands
Age: 25 years
Reported Salary in 2021: $175,000 (USD)
Vivianne Miedema is a Dutch soccer player who plays for Arsenal in FA WSL. She is known for her goalscoring ability and is regarded as one of the best strikers in women’s soccer.
She was born in Hoogeveen and started playing soccer at the age of five. She played on boys’ teams during her childhood before she joined S.C. Heerenveen in 2011. She made her debut at the age of 15 and broke several records in Eredivisie and Bene League. In the 2013-14 Bene League, she scored 41 goals in 26 games – 15 goals better than her nearest competitor. She spent three seasons at Bayern Munich from 2014 to 2017 and won two Bundesliga titles. In 2017, she joined Arsenal, and since then, she has established herself as one of the best in women’s soccer.
Currently, she is the all-time top goalscorer in WSL and the top Dutch scorer in international soccer, both men and women. Many women’s soccer fans would consider her the best women’s soccer player ever from the Netherlands.
Growing up, Miedema based her game on Robin van Persie, and she has also been called a mix of Marco van Basten and Dennis Bergkamp. She is known to be a humble person and doesn’t celebrate her goals.
Current Team: OL Reign (on loan from Olympique Lyonnais)
Age: 29 years
Reported Salary in 2021: $150,000 (USD)
Dzsenifer Marozsan is a German international who currently plays as a midfielder for NSWL side O.L. Reign, on loan from Olympique Lyonnais.
Marozsan was born in Hungary, and her father was a professional soccer player. She moved to Germany in 1996 when her father joined 1. FC Saarbrücken. Eventually, Marozsan also joined the youth academy of the German club and made her debut in 2007, at the age of 14 years and seven months, becoming the youngest player to play in Bundesliga. She is also the youngest player to score in Bundesliga. The German Football Association pushed for her to accept German citizenship, and as a result, granted citizenship to her entire family. In 2009, she joined FFC Frankfurt and led them to the Champions League title in 2014-15. She joined Lyonnais in 2016 and became an integral part of one of the best women’s soccer teams ever. She won four consecutive Champions League and Division 1 Féminine titles with the French club from 2016 to 2020.
She was also a part of the German national soccer team that won Gold at the 2016 Olympics.
Current Team: Chelsea
Position: Attacking Midfielder/Striker
Age: 29 years
Reported Salary in 2021: $350,000 (USD)
Pernille Harder is a Danish professional soccer player who currently plays for Chelsea in FA WSL. She is famous as the world’s most expensive female soccer player following her £250,000+ move from Wolfsburg to Chelsea in 2019.
Harder started her career with Team Viborg and IK Skovbakken in the Danish women’s league Elitedivisionen. She moved to the Swedish side Linköpings FC in 2012, where she shot onto the global stage. Harder helped her team to the Damallsvenskan in 2016 before joining Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg in the same year. She was the star of the German side that won four consecutive Bundesliga and German Cup trophies from 2016-17 to 2019-20. Harder also helped her side reach the finals of the Champions League in 2018 and 2020, but they lost to Lyon on both occasions. Her exploits in Germany brought her record move to Chelsea, and she won the WSL title in her first season in England. However, she again suffered a defeat in a Champions League final as Barcelona defeated Chelsea 4-0 in the 20-21 final.
She was UEFA Women’s Player of the Year in 2018 and 2020.
Current Team: Manchester City
Age: 29 years
Reported Salary in 2021: $200,000 (USD)
Lucy Bronze is an England international who plays for Manchester City in FA WSL. Bronze came through Sunderland youth academy and played for them at the senior level from 2007 to 2011. In between, she got a scholarship to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and play for their soccer team. She helped her team won the NCAA Cup in December 2009 – the first British player to achieve the feat. In 2010, Bronze joined Everton in the newly formed WSL. In 2012, she joined cross-town rivals Liverpool and helped them win back-to-back WSL titles.
She spent the next three seasons at Manchester City, helping them win the 2016 WSL title. In 2017, she moved to France to play for Lyon, and the decision proved to be quite successful. She won three consecutive Champions League and league titles during her time with the club. In 2020, she moved back to Manchester City.
Bronze is the only English to have won the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year Award so far. She was also a vital member of the English side that finished third at the 2015 World Cup.
Current Team: Portland Thorns F.C.
Age: 29 years
Reported Salary in 2021: $140,000 (USD)
Crystal Dunn is a U.S. international who currently plays for Portland Thorns F.C. in NWSL. Dunn was born in New York, and she attended South Side High School. Dunn attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, from 2010 to 2013 and represented its soccer team. She helped her University claim the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship in 2012 and won Hermann Trophy in the same year.
She joined Washington Spirit after being their first pick in the college draft ahead of the 2014 season. Her breakthrough season came in 2015 when she scored 15 goals to win the Golden Boot in NWSL. However, she failed to win any silverware with Spirit and moved across the Atlantic to play for Chelsea in 2017. She stayed in England for a year before moving back to the U.S. to join North Carolina Courage. The following two years proved to be hugely successful for Dunn. She won back-to-back NWSL Champions and NWSL Shield titles and lifted the World Cup trophy with the United States national team. She joined Portland Thorns in 2020.
Dunn is a highly versatile player with experience playing in various positions such as striker, winger, and wing-back.
Current Team: Chicago Red Stars
Age: 29 years
Reported Salary in 2021: $430,000 (USD)
Julie Ertz is a famous U.S. international who currently plays for Chicago Red Stars in NWSL. She was born in Mesa, Arizona, and came through Sereno Soccer Club in Phoenix. She attended Santa Clara University from 2010 to 2013 and played for their side Broncos. In 2014, she was picked, third overall, in the college draft by Chicago Red Stars. Since then, she has stayed at the same club.
Ertz is a star player in the U.S. national team, and she was a crucial part of their World Cup triumphs in 2015 and 2019. She also won the bronze medal with the U.S. team at the 2020 Olympics. However, she has failed to match her success for the U.S. side at the club level.
She was named U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year in 2017 and 2019. She was also named the best NSWL player at the 2021 ESPY Awards.
During the initial phase of her U.S. career, Ertz played as center-back. However, she was moved to a defensive midfield by coach Jill Ellis in 2017, and she has found success in her new role.
Current Team: North Carolina Courage
Age: 29 years
Reported Salary in 2021: $300,000 (USD)
Debinha is arguably the best women’s soccer player from South America currently. The Brazilian forward played for several clubs, such as Foz Cataratas and Centro Olimpico in her homeland before her name was suggested by her Brazilian teammate Rosana to Norwegian club Avaldsnes in 2013. She didn’t take long to make an impression and was the top scorer at 2014 Toppserien. In 2016, she moved to China to play for Dalian Quanjian in the Chinese Women’s Super League. Her sojourn in the Far East lasted only for a year, and she moved to the U.S. to play for North Carolina Courage in 2017.
Her move to the U.S. has produced her first significant silverware. Debinha has won two NWSL Champions and three NWSL Shields with Courage. Furthermore, she has managed to find the net in both Championship final wins. She was also selected as the NWSL Championship Game MVP in 2019.
Current Team: Arsenal
Age: 33 years
Reported Salary in 2021: $325,000 (USD)
Tobin Heath is the oldest name on our list of best women’s soccer players. The veteran forward is a famous face in the U.S. national setup, making her national debut in 2007. Her accomplishments with the U.S. team include two World Cups, two Olympic Golds, and an Olympic Bronze. Heath was also a member of the U.S. side that lost in the 2011 World Cup final.
Heath attended the University of North Carolina from 2006 to 2009. She won three NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament with her University side. In addition, she had short spells with Pali Blues, Atlanta beat, Sky Blue F.C., and New York Fury in now-defunct W-League, WPS, and WPSL Elite leagues.
She had two brief spells with PSG in France during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. After that, Heath joined Portland Thorns on a permanent deal and stayed there for the following seasons. She won two Championships and one Shield during her spell. Heath joined WSL side Manchester United on a one-year deal in 2020, but her season was interrupted by an injury. On the eve of the 2021-21 season, she joined Arsenal.
We witnessed that most of the top women’s soccer players represent a small pool of nations and clubs. However, as the sport’s popularity grows beyond the U.S. and Western Europe, we should see the best women’s soccer players from other geographical regions.
The last few years have been great for international women’s soccer. In 2019, FIFA organized a relatively successful World Cup. In 2021, Canada won the hearts of soccer fans with their Gold Medal at the Olympics 2020. The next step for international women’s soccer is the 2023 FIFA Women’s World, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
As the popularity of women’s soccer regularly increases, one can expect the 2023 World Cup to be more successful than ever.
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