NxGn 2020: The 10 best wonderkids in women’s football

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NxGn 2020 HP Oberdorf Huitema James
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Goal counts down the top 10 female talents born on or after January 1, 2001 from all across the world

  1. Linda Caicedo | Deportivo Cali
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    #10 Linda Caicedo | Deportivo Cali

    In Linda Caicedo’s first season in senior women’s football, she top-scored in Colombia’s top-flight and led America de Cali to their first-ever Championship title. 

    But as her team reached the semi-finals of the Copa Liberatores, she couldn’t play – because she was too young.

    The youngest player to play in Colombia’s Liga Aguila, its youngest-ever scorer and the youngest to be nominated for Player of the Year, Caicedo didn’t turn 15 until February 2020!

    The Copa Libertadores rules, however, state a player must be 16 years old, which means she will be too young to play in the competition again this season – when she turns out for America’s biggest rivals, Deportivo Cali.

    The controversial transfer is part of a deal that will see Caicedo, who has already made her senior Colombia debut, move to Barcelona further down the line.

    “From the moment she arrived, we noticed that Linda had something different,” Rafael Murillo, president of America de Cali, said.

    It’s a lot of pressure for a player so young – but she is taking everything in her stride brilliantly, continuing to justify the hype.

  2. Yuzuki Yamamoto | NTV Beleza
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    #9 Yuzuki Yamamoto | NTV Beleza

    With four goals to her name already, Yuzuki Yamamoto made a bold prediction ahead of the 2019 AFC Under-19 Championship final.

    "I'm always searching for a goal and I will score one in the next match,” she said – and she didn’t disappoint.

    As Momo Nakao went on a mazy run down the right, Yamamoto peeled away from her marker and screamed for the cut-back – slotting home to put Japan 1-0 up and on their way to victory over North Korea.

    It was her fifth goal of the tournament in just her fourth game.

    Asked about her ambitions, Yamamoto said: "I want to be selected for the senior national team, participate in the World Cup and be champions."

    Again, her words are bold, but with her knack for goal-scoring, such hopes are certainly not unrealistic.

  3. Kate Wiesner | Penn State
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    #8 Kate Wiesner | Penn State

    Penn State’s women’s soccer programme has constantly produced top talent in the United States.

    Alyssa Naeher and Ali Krieger, World Cup winners in both 2015 and 2019, are just two examples – and now, they have another coming through.

    "Kate Wiesner is a world-class player and she’s going to show it throughout her four years here," Erica Dambach, who has seen plenty of top talent during her 13 years as a coach at Penn State, said. “She’s going to be a big-time player in this program.”

    A player who can operate as a left-back or on the left wing, Wiesner may only be 19, but she's already played at her fair share of international tournaments at youth level and even made the USWNT Under-19s roster at the age of 16, such is her ability.

    Named in the Best XI after winning the CONCACAF Under-17 Championship in 2018, she certainly has the potential to be part of the USWNT’s next generation of stars – and, at Penn State, she’s in the perfect place to realise that.

  4. Gift Monday | FC Robo
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    #7 Gift Monday | FC Robo

    When Gift Monday made her senior international bow for Nigeria in September, it marked the start of what promises to be an excellent career at the top level.

    The 18-year-old was the Falconets' star player at the 2018 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, showcasing her fine dribbling abilities and power on the ball as her team reached the quarter-finals.

    One year later, she scored the first goal of Nigeria’s successful African Games campaign, again proving to be a key player as they won gold at the competition for the first time in 12 years.

    Coach Christopher Danjuma dubbed her contributions “outstanding” while Monday herself has spoken with maturity beyond her years throughout all their success.

    A fantastic finisher and a threat in the air, the teenage forward is now getting the chances to make an impact at senior level – but, first and foremost, will be a crucial player for Nigeria Under-20s as they set their sights on qualifying for this year’s World Cup.

  5. Mary Fowler | Montpellier
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    #6 Mary Fowler | Montpellier

    When Australia announced their Women’s World Cup squad in May 2019, there was one big surprise: a place for 16-year-old Mary Fowler.

    Twelve months earlier, she became the fifth youngest player to represent the Matildas, playing against Brazil at just 15 years and 162 days old.

    Fowler wouldn’t see any minutes in France, but upon returning to Australia, she would make her W-League bow – signing for Adelaide United in what would be a short but sweet stint.

    In seven games, the forward showcased her wonderful footwork, strength and her quality in front of goal too, scoring three times.

    She was signed by Montpellier in February, where she will wear the No.9 shirt. In the French club’s announcement, they said they hoped she would “enjoy the same success as her namesake Robbie, serial Liverpool goalscorer in the 1990s”.

    The sky really is the limit for Australia’s new footballing prodigy.

  6. Melchie Dumornay | AS Tigresses
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    #5 Melchie Dumornay | AS Tigresses

    Haiti is not exactly renowned for producing world-class footballers, but in Melchie Dumornay they have something special.

    In 2018, the midfielder was named in the Team of the Tournament as a reward for her performances at both the CONCACAF Under-17 and Under-20 Championship, while also winning the Golden Ball at the former.

    Her performances were a key factor in Haiti’s third-placed finish at the latter too, securing the country’s place in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup – making them the first Caribbean nation to play at the tournament.

    And in February’s CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers, Dumornay, who is still just 16 years old, showed she can do it at senior level too.

    When Haiti opened their campaign with a 6-0 victory against Panama, it was her powerful drive that created the second goal, while she got in on the act herself in the second half with a thumping header.

    Haiti have caught women’s football fever in recent times – and with a talent like Dumornay in their ranks, it’s no wonder why.

  7. Lauren James | Manchester United
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    #4 Lauren James | Manchester United

    When Lauren James made her full Women’s Super League debut for Manchester United in September, she stole the show with her close control, agility, skill and power.

    “You can’t show her right and you can’t show her left, because she can play off both feet,” Liverpool coach Vicky Jepson said. “I don’t think you can tell me one centre-half in the league who can deal with her.”

    Since, the 18-year-old forward has netted another seven times in all competitions and has become a key player for Casey Stoney’s side – but there’s still so much to come.

    “There’s areas of her game we need to work on with her and she’s more than aware of and is very hungry to do that,” Stoney says. “She can be as good as she wants to be.”

  8. Claudia Pina | Barcelona
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    #3 Claudia Pina | Barcelona

    Few countries can claim to have given the game more wonderful technicians than Spain, and Claudia Pina is yet another.

    The Barcelona forward has all the tricks and flicks, the composure and confidence to show what she can do and an eye for goal that you can't teach.

    Her goalscoring record at youth level for Spain’s women highlights as much: as of February 2020, the forward had 37 goals in 39 appearances across age groups, as well as winners' medals from the UEFA Under-17 Championship and FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

    At the latter tournament, she scooped up the Golden Ball and Silver Boot awards as well, scoring twice in the final to guide Spain to glory.

    At Barcelona, for whom the 18-year-old made her senior debut at 16, Pina is still waiting for the chance to showcase her sheer brilliance.

    In such a star-studded squad, one which is cruising to the league title with incredible speed, that is to be expected. But there is no doubt about Pina’s ability to make her mark – it’s a matter of when, rather than if.

  9. Jordyn Huitema | Paris Saint-Germain
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    #2 Jordyn Huitema | Paris Saint-Germain

    For most young athletes in North America, going to college is a no-brainer. It furthers their education while also developing their sporting potential, before giving them the chance to be drafted into a professional team upon graduation.

    Most young athletes, however, don’t turn 18 and already have the ability that Jordyn Huitema has.

    When she chose to forgo college to move to Europe and join French giants Paris Saint-Germain, it spoke wonders of just how good she is.

    The sharp-shooting forward has already reached 30 senior caps for Canada and hit seven goals in early February to help secure her country’s place at the Tokyo Olympics.

    In doing so, she claimed the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament’s Golden Boot, becoming the youngest player ever to do so.

    Canada may soon lose Christine Sinclair, who recently became football’s all-time top scorer at international level, to retirement. But, in Huitema, they have already found the heir to her throne.

  10. Lena Oberdorf | SGS Essen
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    #1 Lena Oberdorf | SGS Essen

    When Lena Oberdorf came on as a half-time substitute in Germany’s Women’s World Cup opener last summer, history was made. 

    It was a change that saw the versatile teenager replace Birgit Prinz, widely considered one of the greatest players of all-time, as the youngest player to represent the European nation at football’s biggest tournament.

    Just two days earlier, she had to complete a three-hour exam at Germany’s training base and then here she was, at the pinnacle of a footballer’s career, playing at a World Cup.

    "With Lena, we want to introduce a physical presence," her coach, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, explained. "If we can do that with our youngest player, then that says a lot about her."

    Since then, Oberdorf has been doing that in a variety of positions. The SGS Essen star can operate as a centre-back, central midfielder, full-back and a winger – with her composure and maturity never wavering.

    With such versatility and unquestionable talent, Oberdorf is now slowly becoming a regular starter for country as well as club – and she’s only just turned 18.