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The 15 best players at the Women's World Cup, ranked

The growth of the women's game has manifested in the biggest (32 teams), most audacious (co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand) World Cup yet. The individual talent pool, as evidenced by our following best players at the Women's World Cup list, has also never been more exciting.

There are some household names looking for one last legacy-defining tournament, but there's also an emerging next generation taking things to another level.

The 15 best Women's World Cup players 2023, ranked

Ruled out of this list through injury: Beth Mead (England), Catarina Macario (USWNT), Vivianne Miedema (Netherlands)

#15. Khadija "Bunny" Shaw | Jamaica 

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Back-to-back World Cup appearances for the Reggae Girlz should be surprising, but this is a team that's led by 26-year-old captain Bunny Shaw. Her scoring record for Jamaica is simply ridiculous — 55 goals in 38 appearances — and her rate with Manchester City this past season wasn't much different (29 goals in 28 games across all competitions). 

Shaw wasn't on the scoresheet at the 2019 tournament but there's no way that's happening this time around.

#14. Lena Oberdorf | Germany 

best Women's World Cup players 2023

Oberdorf is one of the game's biggest talents. Photo: Shutterstock

Only 21 years of age, Oberdorf has already collected 37 caps and was named Young Player of the Tournament at Euro 2022. The versatile midfielder then went on to lead Wolfsburg to the 2023 UWCL Final. 

#13. Wendie Renard | France 

best Women's World Cup players 2023

Renard is a seven-time member of the FIFPro World XI. Photo: Getty Images

Widely regarded as the game's best defender, it was Renard's threat to quit France that ultimately forced Corinne Diacre out as manager. Standing 6'2'', Renard is also a major aerial threat (34 goals in 144 caps).

The 32-year-old has spent her entire club career with Lyon, winning eight UWCL titles.

#12. Asisat Oshoala | Nigeria 

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The Super Falcons have reached every single World Cup but haven't advanced beyond the last-16 since 1999. Oshoala — who scored at both the 2015 and 2019 events — is key to Nigeria's hopes as one of the game's most feared strikers.

The 28-year-old was Liga F's top scorer in 2021-22 with 20 goals and she again hit that mark for Barcelona in 2022-23.  

#11. Rachel Daly | England  

best Women's World Cup players 2023

We'll never forget her performances with Houston at the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup. Photo: Shutterstock

How good of a footballer is Daly? She was England's starting left back during their victorious Euro 2022 run, and now she just won the WSL Golden Boot with 20 goals in 20 games as Aston Villa's striker.

She can play anywhere.

#10. Alex Morgan | USWNT  

best Women's World Cup players 2023

With 10 million Instagram followers, Morgan is the World Cup's biggest star. Photo: Getty Images

This World Cup finds Morgan turning 34, but the USWNT legend (a two-time World Cup winner, gold and bronze medalist, 121 goals in 206 caps) has evolved into perhaps the most complete center forward in the women's game. She won the 2022 NWSL Golden Boot with 15 goals in 17 games, and she's got four from five to begin 2023.

#9. Ada Hegerberg | Norway

best Women's World Cup players 2023

Hegerberg is the UWCL's all-time leading scorer with 59 goals. Photo: Getty Images

There are no questions over the 2018 Ballon d'Or winner's ability when healthy, but the 27-year-old missed the 2020-21 club season with an ACL injury and missed most of this season with a string of unfortunate setbacks.

#8. Debinha | Brazil

best Women's World Cup players 2023

Debinha is a two-time NWSL Championship winner. Photo: Getty Images

The 31-year-old is now Brazil's star attraction and helped the Seleção win the 2022 Copa América with five goals. At club level, Debinha recently arrived at the Kansas City Current from the NC Courage (where she won the 2019 MVP) and began the campaign with four goals in five games.

#7. Caroline Graham Hansen | Norway 

best Women's World Cup players 2023

Hansen was the 2020-21 Liga F MVP. Photo: Shutterstock

A breakout star of the last World Cup, Hansen is now 28 and regarded as one of the best wingers in the world. She's played a big role in each of Barcelona's last four league triumphs and corresponding success in the UWCL, and Hansen is again enjoying a big season with 12 goals and six assists in 17 games.

#6. Alexandra Popp | Germany 

best Women's World Cup players 2023

Popp is a two-time German Footballer of the Year award winner. Photo: Shutterstock

The 32-year-old remains at the height of her powers after scoring six goals at Euro 2022 despite missing the final through injury. With Wolfsburg, she scored 15 goals and provided four assists in 18 Bundesliga matches this season while also helping the club reach the UWCL final.

This will be Popp's fourth World Cup; she's got 61 goals in 127 caps for the DFB-Frauen.

#5. Keira Walsh | England   

best Women's World Cup players 2023

None shall pass: Walsh is a box-to-box prescense. Photo: Getty Images

The most expensive player in the women's game after transferring from Manchester City to Barcelona for $516,000 last summer, the 26-year-old midfielder was named in the Euro 2022 Team of the Tournament for pulling the strings in England's triumph.

#4. Sophia Smith | USWNT 

best Women's World Cup players 2023

Smith is the present and future of the USWNT. Photo: Getty Images

Still only 22, Smith had a remarkable 2022 with 11 goals in 17 USWNT appearances (winning the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year) while tearing apart the NWSL with regular season and championship game MVP honors.  

Her early 2023 form with the Portland Thorns hasn't been any different: six games, four goals and five assists. 

#3. Aitana Bonmatí | Spain 

best Women's World Cup players 2023

Doña Aitana is a magician. Photo: Shutterstock

Despite losing Alexia Putellas to an ACL injury Barcelona kept rolling this season, winning 27 of their 28 Liga F matches and reaching the UWCL final with Bonmatí taking charge from midfield. She recorded nine goals and 10 assists in 21 domestic games, but Bonmatí has really excelled in the Champions League with five goals and seven assists in 10 matches. 

Bonmatí didn't have a big role with Spain at the last World Cup, but now age 25, she'll be one of her nation's most important players.

#2. Alexia Putellas | Spain 

best Women's World Cup players 2023

Can Putellas get back to her best in Australia and New Zealand? Photo: Shutterstock

The only reason Putellas isn't No. 1 on this list is because the back-to-back Ballon d'Or winner just recently returned from an ACL injury that cost her a place at Euro 2022 and almost the entire 2022-23 club season with Barcelona.

But she returned to action with Barça for the final month of the campaign and is set to represent La Roja at the World Cup.

#1. Sam Kerr | Australia

best Women's World Cup players 2023

Kerr is the Matildas all-time leading scorer with 63 goals in 120 caps. Photo: Getty Images

Kerr is only 29 but this'll be her fourth World Cup and second as Australia's captain. She scored five goals at the last tournament, including four in a single match against Jamaica. With club side Chelsea, Kerr won the WSL Golden Boot in both 2020-21 and 2021-22 while going on to score 27 goals in 34 appearances across all competitions this campaign.

The Matildas are targeting a first-ever trip to the semifinals, and their star striker's form has the country convinced that anything is possible.

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