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RANKED! – Top 10 strikers in women’s football 

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RANKED! - Top 10 Strikers In Women’s Football  Cover

The role of a centre-forward is becoming increasingly complex over the years. While there’s the constant pressure of delivering goals in almost every single game, centre-forwards nowadays are expected to do a lot more than just scoring goals. 

More recently, the centre-forward role has developed into a position that not only requires the player to put the ball in the back of the net but also link-up play and create goal-scoring opportunities for their teammates as well. 

Thus, keeping all these in mind, in this article we a look at the best female strikers in world football right now. 

Also read: Ranked: 10 best women’s club football teams in the world right now 

#10 Lea Schüller

25 years old • Germany • Bayern Munich

It was Lea Schüller who Alexandra Popp actually replaced in the Germany starting XI during the Euros, after Schüller became one of the many casualties to catch COVID early on in the tournament. She won the Golden Boot last season in the Frauen-Bundesliga, scoring 16 goals. In fact, she has scored 16 goals in each of her last three league campaigns, highlighting her incredible consistency.

Although Popp’s exploits in the Euros mean Schüller’s game time internationally has been limited recently, she is still likely to progress and become Germany’s out-and-out striker up top. 

A poacher and a fox inside the box, Schüller’s greatest trait is her ability to find space inside the six-yard box. Besides, she’s an excellent reader of the game, often benefitting from the overlapping runs her teammates make to pick on the second balls, as well as being a genuine threat in the air. 

#9 Khadija “Bunny” Shaw

25 years old • Jamaica • Manchester City Women 

Shaw arrived at Manchester City last season amid a lot of hype surrounding her. The 2020/21 season saw the 25-year-old Jamaican score 22 league goals, outscoring even the likes of Marie-Antoinette Katoto. However, Man City opted to start the 2021/22 season with Ellen White and gradually eased Shaw in. But since the England forward’s retirement, Shaw has gone on to demonstrate her exceptional goal-scoring prowess that everybody knew was there. This season, Shaw has been on another level for Man City, having produced nine goals and two assists in just ten WSL games. 

A prolific finisher, Shaw is known for her ability to impact games in different ways. She can score with both feet, while her physical dominance makes her equally effective both inside the box as well as with her hold-up and link-up play. Apart from all these, she is one pacy forward who can turn defenders inside out with her incredible change of pace, making it impossible for opposition coaches and defenders to nullify her. 

#8 Ewa Pajor 

26 years old • Poland • VfL Wolfsburg

Had the 26-year-old Poland international not struggled with a slew of unfortunate injuries over the past couple of seasons, Ewa Pajor would comfortably have been inside my top five. Since the start of the 2018/19 season, she has averaged more than one game per 90′ every single season, which seems ridiculous. Pajor is, without a doubt, one of the best goal-scorers in world football, but injuries have always prevented her from staking her claim. Now fit, she has been arguably one of the most impressive players this season. 

Pajor already has eight goals and four assists from eight Frauen-Bundesliga games, and is also the top goal-scorer in the UEFA Women’s Champions League (UWCL), having scored seven goals and provided one assist in six games as VfL Wolfsburg topped their group. Die Wölfinnen haven’t made a UWCL final since the 2019/20 season, and if Pajor can stay fit for the rest of the season, there’s no doubt they will be one of the favourites to lift the trophy. 

#7 Alessia Russo

23 years old • England • Manchester United Women

Alessia Russo redefined the term “super sub” during the Euros last summer as she scored four goals coming off the bench. She was one of the heroes of England’s successful Euros campaign, and her impact up front was critical, starting with coming off the bench to set up England’s equaliser against Spain before scoring arguably one of the goals of the tournament against Sweden with an audacious back-heel.

Equally adept at dropping deep as she is inside the box, the 23-year-old forward has been leading Manchester United’s forward line ever since finishing college, where she played for the North Carolina Tar Heels. 

In her first full season last season, Russo scored nine goals and set up another four in 19 starts in the FA Women’s Super League as United finished fourth in the table. However, being a supremely talented player, the England international is going from strength to strength, with her physical ability combined with her ever-evolving goal-scoring instinct making her a difficult player to stop. 

#6 Sophia Smith 

22 years old • USA • Portland Thorns 

The 22-year-old US women’s national team striker has been a revelation ever since joining the Portland Thorns as the first draft pick in 2020. After an impressive first season where she netted seven goals, averaging a goal contribution every two games, Smith exploded onto the scene last year when she inspired the Portland Thorns to an NWSL Championship title. She scored 14 goals and provided 3 assists in 18 games, becoming the NWSL MVP in the process. She also scored in the NWSL Championship final, where she was adjudged MVP of that match. 

Smith is one of those modern complete forwards who excel at almost everything. She links the play well, has a poacher’s instinct, can drop out wide or drop in deep to create, and has a finisher’s touch. Besides, she has been in prolific form throughout the year 2022 and is also taking up a more prominent role in the new-look USWNT attack ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. 

#5 Marie-Antoinette Katoto

24 years old • France • Paris Saint-Germain Féminine

Marie-Antoinette Katoto is another big-name player who has been sidelined with an ACL injury in 2022. The PSG forward was just 23 when she became her club’s all-time highest goalscorer, having joined the club at the age of 18.

Since making her debut during the 2017/18 season, Katoto has gone on to score 20 or more goals in every single season. She is one of the best finishers in world football right now, who not only uses her excellent hold-up play to shield the ball but also runs with the ball, turning defenders inside out.

Katoto ended the 2021/22 domestic season as the top goalscorer, while her effective play up front meant PSG were tantalisingly close to knocking eventual champions Lyon out in the semi-finals of the UWCL. 

The 2022 Women’s European Championship was touted to be Katoto’s breakthrough tournament. However, the 24-year-old did her ACL in just the second group stage fixture, ending her tournament as well as closing the curtains on the rest of the year. Thus, it is a testament to her outstanding performances on the pitch for both club and country that Marie-Antoinette Katoto still holds the fifth spot despite having missed almost half of the year. 

#4 Alexandra Popp

31 years old • Germany • VfL Wolfsburg

A versatile forward who can excel anywhere across the forward line, Alexandra Popp finally had her shot at fulfilling her dream when she starred for Germany during the Euros last summer. A player who had never featured in Euros before due to injuries, Popp made up for lost time during the 2022 edition in England. The 31-year-old scored in every single game she played in and was the top goalscorer alongside England’s Beth Mead with six goals. Unfortunately, the Wolfsburg forward missed the final against England due to injury, which was both frustrating and heartbreaking for her. 

With injuries playing a major role, the 31-year-old has missed out on large parts of the previous two seasons, but when fit, she’s as good as any forward in women’s football currently. Someone known for her physicality and aerial ability inside the opposition’s 18-yard box, Popp also excels at making intelligent runs and arriving inside the box just at the right moment, highlighting her impeccable reading of the game over the years. 

#3 Vivianne Miedema

26 years old • The Netherlands • Arsenal Women 

One of the most technically gifted players in women’s football, Vivianne Miedema had an average 2022 by her standards. However, it was mostly down to injuries and COVID-19 before an ACL rupture early into the 2022/23 season ended her year prematurely.

Before the Euros, Miedema was in fine form, scoring 14 goals and providing 8 assists during the 2021/22 season, behind only Chelsea’s Sam Kerr in terms of overall output. During the Euros, she was one of many players hit by COVID-19 during the tournament and was unable to recover enough back in time to stop the Dutch from getting knocked out by France in the quarter-finals. 

The 26-year-old returned to action following a much-needed break as she showed glimpses of her usual past self. However, a couple of months into the 2022/23 season, Miedema ruptured her ACL, which will most likely rule her out of the upcoming World Cup in Australia this summer. Thus, it’s a cruel end to such a promising forward’s hopes as the Dutch will hope to go deep into the tournament, like they did in 2019. 

#2 Ada Hegerberg

27 years old • Norway • Olympique Lyonnais Féminin

The winner of the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or award made her comeback to professional football last season after sitting on the sidelines for over a year with injuries. And if there were doubts whether football had moved on without her, Ada Hegerberg answered her critics quite scintillatingly as she produced 10 goals and 6 assists in the league despite only returning partway through the season. She was also influential in Lyon winning the UWCL. With a goal and an assist in the semi-finals against Paris Saint-Germain and the same against Barcelona in the final, Hegerberg reminded everyone that neither Lyon nor herself were to be slept on.  

Hegerberg returned to the international stage with Norway after missing out on the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, though it was a tough Euros campaign for the Norwegian as her side dropped out in the group stages, including an 8-0 humiliating defeat to England. Besides, another injury setback has resulted in the 27-year-old missing out on the first half of this season. She will be hoping to get back on a good run of form before the World Cup in Australia. 

#1 Sam Kerr

29 years old • Australia • Chelsea Women 

There are few players in women’s football who can be argued to be as successful globally as Sam Kerr is at the moment. The 29-year-old Australian is the only woman to win the Golden Boot award on three different continents.

Kerr ended last season with 20 league goals, becoming the first player to score 20 or more goals in two consecutive seasons. She was the top goalscorer in the WSL as Chelsea sealed their third consecutive league title, while she again scored in the two FA Cup finals over the past 12 months, with Chelsea winning on both occasions. 

Besides, Kerr was the Golden Boot winner for Australia in the Asia Cup last year. She has shown a penchant for scoring goals in some of the biggest games. What makes her the complete package is her ability to run off the shoulder of the last defender as well as peeling out wide or dropping in deep to assist in her team’s build-up play. She can score tap-ins, headers, and even long-range shots, as evident with some of her goals from last season. Hence, it isn’t even a debate when we are looking for the top striker in women’s football right now. 

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An engineer taking the road less taken. I love writing, live and breathe football, and am always up for a tactical conversation.

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