We pick out ten young players to watch in the coming year – and decade.
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There is no shortage of exciting talent emerging all over Europe – we pick out ten players from as many nations making their breakthrough.
Laia Aleixandri (ESP, 19 – Atlético Madrid)
The central defender, also able to operate at right-back, was a regular as Atlético retained the Spanish title ahead of UEFA Women's Champions League runners-up Barcelona and has now helped the capital club to the last eight in Europe for the first time. Her Spain U17 debut came when she was 14, she helped them to the 2015 WU17 EURO title the following year and in July, Aleixandri was named in the WU19 EURO team of the tournament, having scored on her senior debut against Cameroon two months earlier.
Hanna Bennison (SWE, 17 – Rosengård)
The midfielder broke into the Rosengård first team in April after making several cameos in 2018. By November, Bennison had a Damallsvenskan winner's medal and made her Sweden senior debut away to the United States in front of a crowd of 20,903 – coming on just past the hour with her side three down to the world champions and helping pull it back to 3-2, showing her ability with the chip for her team's first goal.
Emilie Bragstad (NOR, 18 – Trondheims-Ørn)
Still only 17, Bragstad scored three goals at Women's U19 EURO in July, including two against eventual winners France. Although her season for Trondheims-Ørn was ended prematurely in September by injury (just after agreeing a new contract), she is clearly a big attacking talent with the potential for further breakthroughs on her return.
Lauren Hemp (ENG, 19 – Manchester City)
Recently tied to a long-term contract by City, this has been a breakthrough year for the forward, a bronze-medallist with England at the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. That summer she was signed from Bristol City as the reigning England players' young player of the year, and really broke through into the Manchester City team last spring. Hemp has continued to perform at a high level this season and in October made her senior England debut. A huge all-round attacking talent.
Sophia Kleinherne (GER, 19 – FFC Frankfurt)
A WU19 EURO runner-up this year to add to her WU17 EURO title from 2016, the defender has been appearing regularly in the Bundesliga since joining Frankfurt in 2017, not missing a minute in the first half of this season. She also made her Germany senior debut against England on 9 November – starting in front of a crowd of 77,786 at Wembley and being voted player of the match by fans after her typically assured display on the left of defence.
Anna Koivunen (FIN, 18 – HJK Helsinki)
Selected in the team of the tournament after helping Finland to a surprise Women's U17 EURO bronze (and FIFA U-17 World Cup spot) in 2018, goalkeeper Koivunen joined HJK in the winter and conceded only 15 goals in 20 league games as they ended a 14-year wait for their 23rd championship. That earns a potential UEFA Women's Champions League debut for Koivunen next summer.
Melvine Malard (FRA, 19 – Lyon)
Top scorer and perhaps the outstanding player in France's 2019 Women's U19 EURO triumph in Scotland, Malard took the field in Lyon's runs to victory in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 UEFA Women's Champions League campaigns and has been gaining experience this season at mid-table Fleury 91, loaned out after signing a two-deal OL deal. A forward of considerable power and skill.
Jamie-Lee Napier (SCO, 19 – Chelsea)
Chelsea's winter signing of Australian star Sam Kerr has stolen most of the attention but the arrival of versatile midfielder Napier from Hibernian could prove just as significant. Napier was named the Scottish league's player of the year after her 22 goals in 33 games from a new advanced role for Hibs, while she was the outstanding player for the hosts at WU19 EURO in July, receiving a call-up to the senior squad the following month.
Sofie Svava (DEN, 19 – Rosengård)
The midfielder had picked up two league winner's medals this year, first in Denmark with Brøndby then, after her summer switch to Rosengård, helping them reclaim the Swedish title. Also breaking into the Denmark senior team in 2019, a regular in their excellent start to UEFA Women's EURO 2021 qualifying, Svava is the possessor of a sweet left foot.
Nikita Tromp (NED, 17 – Zwolle)
Vivianne Miedema first made her name with record-breaking goalscoring feats for the Netherlands in the UEFA Women's U17 EURO. Last season Tromp matched Miedema's mark of 18 for the season and took her career tally in the competition to 27, seven more than her senior compatriot. Eight more have already followed in WU19 qualifying this season and she has five goals in ten games for new club Zwolle, who she joined from Ajax in the summer.