We pick out ten young female players to watch in the coming year.
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Women’s football is growing faster than ever and more and more young talents are emerging to challenge the established stars – we pick out ten to keep an eye on in 2022.
This list was selected by UEFA.com and is not intended to rival more established awards.
Jule Brand (GER, 19 – Hoffenheim)
A flying winger who can operate at full-back and is well able to get in the goals, Brand broke into the Hoffenheim first team last season, helping them earn a European debut and being one of the youngest regulars in this autumn’s UEFA Women’s Champions League group stage, starring in the 4-1 defeat of Arsenal that so nearly earned an unlikely quarter-final spot. A 2019 Women’s U17 EURO winner, she made her senior Germany debut last year and now has four goals in ten appearances. "Sometimes Jule doesn't even know what she can do," said Germany coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg of the 19-year-old. "She still has so much up her sleeve." Brand's own aim for 2022 is clear, telling Eurosport: "Of course I want to be part of the European Championship, that's a clear goal."
Naomie Feller (FRA, 20 – Reims)
Forward Feller was part of a hugely promising France team that won the 2019 WU19 EURO. Early in 2020 she was taken on loan from recently-promoted Reims to a club she had already scored twice against earlier in the season, Lyon, in the injury absence of none other than Ada Hegerberg. However, the COVID-19 pandemic cut short her time with the then European champions and her 2020/21 back at Reims was wrecked by serious injury. She nevertheless returned to the Reims side this season, starting on the opening day away to Lyon and not looking back. Feller’s exploits up front elicited a senior France debut against Estonia in October.
Maja Jelčić (BIH, 17 – SFK 2000 Sarajevo)
Jelčić’s goalscoring feats at a young age have secured her a fast-track in Bosnian women’s football: her senior international debut came in March 2020 when she was just 15, and a few months later she opened her UEFA Women’s Champions League account for Sarajevo. Last summer Jelčić trained with Eintracht Frankfurt, and further proof of her ability followed this autumn, when she was top scorer in round one of WU19 EURO qualifying, her seven goals helping Bosnia and Herzegovina to promotion to the top League A for the second stage. Jelčić is also among the top scorers in the Bosnian league.
Romée Leuchter (NED, 20 – Ajax)
There’s more than a little competition to break into the Netherlands team, especially in attack, but Leuchter’s goalscoring form has her knocking on the door. She was in the squad for the recent friendly with Japan, and this was no surprise given her run of seven goals in four Eredivisie games for Ajax, including two against PSV Eindhoven, whom she left for the Amsterdammers in the summer. That transfer followed a domestic double, including scoring the only goal of PSV’s cup semi-final scalp of her future club Ajax. When signing Leuchter, Ajax general manager Daphne Koster said: “She is a talented striker, is strong in a one-on-one situation and has speed in her game. Her great strength lies in the penalty box. These are all qualities that make her fit well with Ajax."
Maya Le Tissier (ENG, 19 – Brighton and Hove Albion)
No relation to former England men’s player Matthew Le Tissier but hailing from the same Channel Island of Guernsey, Maya Le Tissier was taken to the English mainland by Brighton in May 2018 and by the end of the year was in the first team. An England youth defender of poise and maturity that belie her age, this season she has shown she can operate at right wing-back as well as her familiar role in the middle. Former England and current Brighton manager Hope Powell told local website Sussex Live earlier this year: "Her application and effort every week is superb, she is always striving to be better. Sometimes we have to hold her back, she tends to do a lot more than we want her to do.”
Misa Rodríguez (ESP, 20 – Real Madrid)
Considering they already have Sandra Paños and Lola Gallardo, still in their 20s, it seems almost impolite that Spain boast a fine crop of up-and-coming young goalkeepers. Teenager María Valenzuela was performing superbly for Levante until her recent ACL injury, while Misa has excelled this year for Madrid. She won 2020/21’s Zamora Trophy, conceding less than a goal a game as Madrid booked a UEFA Women’s Champions League debut, where they have now progressed past the group stage, and even amid her club’s mixed domestic campaign she has continued to impress – witness her string of heroic stops during the loss to Barcelona in November. Misa has also broken into the Spain senior team and is yet to concede after three and a half games.
Emma Snerle (DEN, 20 – West Ham United)
Attacker Snerle had been a Fortuna Hjørring regular since she was 16 has stepped up a gear this season, leading the way as Kvindeliga top scorer at the winter break and last week earning a move to England with West Ham United. She also now has her first senior Denmark goals in FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying and with the potential to be a break-out star at UEFA Women’s EURO 2022, Snerle told Danish broadcaster DR: “I'm definitely in a good period and I have not been in better physical shape in my life. I'm just happy that it's going so well right now.”
Elisabeth Terland (NOR, 20 – Sandviken)
Terland switched from Klepp to Sandviken for 2021 and aided her new club to their first Norwegian league title. Operating wide in midfield, within five minutes of her senior Norway bow in April she had set up a goal in a friendly with Belgium and six months later she struck against the same team in a crucial FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying success, one of five goals Terland has in the 2023 campaign already. “Terland fits in well with the way we play,” said Norway coach Martin Sjögren after her debut. “Her foremost quality is finding the space between the opponent's defence and attack. Something that has surprised me is her ability to get past players.”
Jarne Teulings (BEL, 19 – Twente)
Belgium have a host of talented youngers coming through and midfielder Teulings is definitely one to track. Having made her senior breakthrough with Genk and spent last season with Anderlecht – where she earned a UEFA Women’s Champions League debut in November 2020, not long after her senior Belgium bow, as well as a league title – Teulings moved to Dutch champions Twente last summer. Her first Belgium goals came in November, bearing out her declared ambition “to be able to put my creativity at the service of the Red Flames for a long time".
Katja Wienerroither (AUT, 19 – Grasshopper-Club)
Two goals inside ten minutes of her competitive Austria debut against Latvia in September underlined the swift rise of Wienerroither and the striker’s clear potential. Quick, skilful and with an eye for goal, her impressive displays for Sturm Gruz clinched her a summer transfer to Grasshoppers, where she is playing her part in their current bid to end their wait for a first league championship since the former Schwerzenbach joined up with the men’s club in 2008. A potential wildcard for Austria at Women’s EURO.
Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir