Are European Women's Soccer Clubs Catching Up to the Americans?
Photo Credit Leeza Thomas
Discussions about top female soccer players have tended to be dominated by US players. This is changing fast and, led by Europe, the rest of the world is catching up quickly.
Professional leagues are being set up across the continent and more top clubs are pouring money and resource into developing their women’s teams. Youth soccer academies in Europe are also focusing more on developing their girl's sides.
In Europe, more top female players are committing to play professional soccer full time and devote 100% of their time to the game. The pay for women continues to be below that of the men at the same level of play, but this is also beginning to improve.
One change occurred recently in Norway. They have followed the example of the USA and now players picked for their national team are paid the same, regardless of sex.
NEW GENERATION OF TOP WOMEN'S SOCCER TALENT
US may have to begin to work harder to continue their domination of the sport on the women's side. There is a new generation of top women's talent. Here are a few current examples.
Vivianne Miedema – Arsenal and Netherlands
The Dutch striker has been compared to compatriot Dennis Bergkamp with her ability not just to score goals but assist them as well. She recently notched up 100 goals for her club side Arsenal, breaking the Women’s Super League record, and, at the age of 24, is already the all-time leading goal scorer for her country. She has won two league titles with Bayern Munich and one with Arsenal and the Players’ Union, FIFPro, selected her in the world’s best XI.
No wonder that Arsenal are desperate to try and convince her to sign a new contract with the club.
Wendie Renard – Lyon and France
Renard is one of the best defenders in World football, with an imposing stature combined with composure on the ball, and an uncanny ability to read the game, whilst she is never slow to pose an attacking threat either.
With Lyon she has an incredible record, winning 15 straight league titles, and they have also lifted the Champions League trophy on seven occasions.
A former national team captain, she has played for France 126 times, scoring 29 goals.
Photo Credit - Christoffer Borg Mattison
Ada Hegerberg – Lyon and Norway
For four successive years between 2016 and 2019 Renard’s Lyon team mate was named the best female player in the world. She was the first ever winner of the Ballon D’Or Feminin, and in 2019, scored a 16 minute hat-trick as Lyon thrashed Barcelona in the Champions League final.
She is currently the highest goalscorer of all time in the UEFA Women’s Champions League with 53 strikes to her name.
Alexia Putellas – Barcelona and Spain
In the past couple of years Barcelona have taken over the mantle of top team in Europe from Lyon, and one of the reasons is central midfielder Alexia Putellas, who won the 2020/2021 UEFA Player of the Year award.
A highly versatile player, who can function on the left, as a playmaker or as an auxiliary forward, she has been at the club a decade already, and is vice-captain of the team. She is the club’s second highest scorer ever, behind teammate Jennifer Hermoso, and earlier this year helped Spain qualify for the Women’s European Championship to be held this year.
She has recently surpassed the record of Marta Torrejón to become the most capped Spanish play of all time.
Just as the US seems to have fallen in love with soccer, other countries as beginning to recognize their women’s teams are worth watching and developing.