Ranked! The 10 best women's strikers in the world

Ranked! The 10 best women's strikers in the world
(Image credit: Future)

The role of the striker is one of the most difficult in football with the pressure to deliver goals for your team incredibly high. Over the years, it has developed into a position where not only are you expected to put the ball into the back of the net but also link up play and help create for others around you. 

That is no different in the women’s game where the very best strikers are those who have the all-round game to press from the front, set up goals and score them themselves. Here are our top ten best women’s strikers in the world.

10. Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave)

Alex Morgan

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Before Alex Morgan joined San Diego Wave, it was unclear what the future might hold for the 33-year-old American forward. Morgan has long been recognised as one of the best strikers in the world, having won two World Cups and an Olympic gold medal with the US, but took time out of the game in 2019 to have her first child.

Having returned to football with the Orlando Pride, she became the star signing of Casey Stoney’s Wave. In the Wave’s first season Alex Morgan scored 15 goals, more than she had ever managed in a single NWSL season, winning the Golden Boot. Morgan helped the Wave become the first expansion team ever to reach the NWSL playoffs in their inaugural season, although they eventually lost to the Portland Thorns.

9. Alexandra Popp (Wolfsburg)

Alexandra Popp

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There is no position on the football pitch that Alex Popp is unable to excel in but it was as a striker this summer that she lived out one of her long time dreams. Due to injury, Popp had never featured at a European Championship but she made up for lost time in 2022. She scored in every match she played in during the tournament, including both Germany goals against France in the semi-final. Unfortunately she picked up an injury ahead of the final and missed the match against England.

Popp has dominated women’s football for years with her physicality and ability in the air being particularly difficult for defenders to deal with. Yet she also makes intelligent runs, finding herself in the right place at the right time, with her reading of the game being exceptional.

8. Lea Schüller (Bayern Munich)

Lea Schuller

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It was Lea Schüller who Alexandra Popp actually replaced in the Germany line up over the summer after Schüller caught COVID-19 early on in the tournament. Schüller has long been seen as the future of German striking, having been scoring goals in the Frauen-Bundesliga since the age of 16. 

She won the Golden Boot in Germany last season, scoring 16 goals throughout Bayern Munich’s season. In fact she has scored 16 goals in each of the last three seasons, highlighting what a remarkably consistent player she is. Schüller excels in and around the six yard box, often benefiting from the mazy runs that her teammates make to pick up on rebounds, and is particularly good in the air.

7. Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns)

Sophia Smith

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If English audiences did not know Sophia Smith before the US Women’s National Team visited Wembley, they certainly did by the end of the match. Smith benefited from a high turnover and before England could even blink had fired into the bottom corner from the edge of the area. 

The Portland Thorns striker was the first draft in 2020 and had an exceptional season this year, being named NWSL MVP. She scored the opener in the NWSL Championship final and was also named MVP for that match. It will leave US Women’s National Team coach Vlatko Andonovski with an interesting decision heading into next year’s World Cup as to whether Smith or Alex Morgan starts up top.

6. Alessia Russo (Manchester United)

Alessia Russo

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One of the heroes of England’s successful Euro 2022 campaign, Alessia Russo became their key super sub, scoring four goals across the whole tournament. Her back-heeled finish against Sweden in the semi-final was one of the goals of the tournament, and showed a player who is full of confidence despite being only 23 years old.

Equally as comfortable dropping deep as she is playing in the box, Russo has been leading the line for Manchester United ever since finishing college where she played for the North Carolina Tar Heels. She already has four goals in the WSL this season, with her injury time winner against Arsenal sparking pandemonium among United fans at the Emirates as she kept them in the title race.

5. Ewa Pajor (Wolfsburg)

Ewa Pajor

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26 year old Ewa Pajor has struggled to establish herself as one of the very best strikers in the world due to a number of injuries over the past couple of years, but now she is back fit, she has been one of the most impressive players this season. Since the age of 21, she has averaged more than one goal per 90 minutes played every single season, and is currently scoring at a rate of 1.4 goals per match. 

Pajor is currently the Champions League’s top scorer with six goals already as Wolfsburg qualified for the knockout rounds with two matches spare. Die Wolfinnen have not managed to make a UWCL final since 2019/20 but if Pajor can stay fit for the whole season, they will be a real threat this year.

4. Marie-Antoinette Katoto (Paris St-Germain)

Marie-Antoinette Katoto

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Marie-Antoinette Katoto was only 23 years old when she became PSG’s all-time top scorer. Katoto has scored more than 20 goals in all competitions in every single full season she has played since the age of 18. She is one of the best finishers in the world, able to use her body to shield the ball but also to turn defenders. Katoto left Wendie Renard grasing air during the Champions League semi-final against Lyon as she turned and smashed the ball past Christiane Endler.

Katoto unfortunately did her ACL just two games into Euro 2022, and given she had already racked up a goal and an assist in France’s opening 5-1 demolition of Italy, who knows how far France could have gone in the tournament.

3. Bunny Shaw (Manchester City)

Bunny Shaw

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When Bunny Shaw arrived at Manchester City, there was plenty of hype surrounding her. In her final season at Bordeaux, she had managed 22 league goals, outscoring even Marie-Antoinette Katoto, and there was a lot of expectation for what she would be able to manage in the WSL. However, injuries and rotation with Ellen White limited the amount of minutes she got. This year has been different though. Shaw is currently joint top of the WSL scoring charts, with eight goals in nine appearances, and the undisputed first choice striker at Manchester City.

Bunny Shaw is well known for her ability to score goals in lots of different ways - she is equally as good at shooting with her left foot as she is her right whilst her physical dominance makes her a real threat in the air. Shaw is also very good at dropping deep to hold the ball up before turning players with a pacy sprint.

2. Ada Hegerberg (Lyon)

Ada Hegerberg

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The inaugural winner of the Women’s Ballon D’Or, Ada Hegerberg made her triumphant return to football last season after over a year out. If there had been any doubt as to whether women’s football had moved on without her, Hegerberg answered it in emphatic fashion in the Champions League. With a goal and an assist in the semi-final against PSG and the same in the final against Barcelona, Hegerberg reminded everyone that both herself and Lyon were not worth sleeping on.

However, her return to the Norwegian national team was not quite so successful. Hegerberg had missed the 2019 World Cup as a result of a disagreement with the Norwegian federation but returned ahead of the 2022 Euros. However, Norway exited at the group stage having been humiliated 8-0 by England.

Having picked up another injury, Hegerberg is yet to have played this season.

1. Sam Kerr (Chelsea)

Sam Kerr

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There  are few players who can be argued to be as globally successful as Sam Kerr is. The only woman to have won a Golden Boot on three different continents, she has been essential to Chelsea’s complete dominance of English women’s football over the past three season. 

Kerr was the first player to score more than 20 goals in two consecutive seasons of football and she delighted Chelsea fans with some spectacular ones. There were two volleys on the final day against Manchester United to ensure Chelsea retained the WSL, the second winning WSL goal of the season, as well as an outrageous chip over Manuela Zinsberger at Wembley to win the 2020-21 FA Cup. She also scored the winning goal in the 2021-22 FA Cup final against Manchester City.

Sam Kerr has shown she can play in so many different ways that it makes it very difficult for opposition teams to get a handle on her. Equally comfortable with running off the shoulder of the last defender, as she is with peeling out wide or dropping in deep, she can score headers or long-range shots. Perhaps her only weakness remains one on ones, but hey, no one’s perfect. Sam Kerr comes pretty close though.

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Jessy Parker Humphreys is a freelance women's football writer. A Chelsea fan, Jessy has been following the women's game since being taken to the 2003/04 FA Cup final at Loftus Road and seeing Arsenal thrash Jessy's local side Charlton. Fortunately, Arsenal don't win quite as much as they used to – although Jessy hopes Charlton will also be back at the top of the women's game one day.