The end of 2017 is approaching, and as always it is time to summarise the football year. In this article, we look into the 20 best performers from the three Scandinavian leagues: Damallsvenskan in Sweden, Toppserien in Norway and 3F Ligaen in Denmark.
To be a contender for this list a player, obviously, has to play in Scandinavia. Furthermore, they need to have played in Scandinavia for the entire duration of the year. This excludes a number of great players such as Lieke Martens (FC Rosengård to Barcelona) and Kosovare Asllani (Manchester City to Linköping), but it doesn’t exclude players who moved clubs within Scandinavia. Lastly, this list is based on club form rather than performances with the national team.
Without further ado here is the twenty players who make up the list of the best players playing in Scandinavia in 2017:
20. Stine Larsen / Brøndby IF (3F Ligaen) / Denmark
There have been plenty of great performances from young Danish players in the Danish league and VSK Aarhus’ Signe Holt Andersen or Fortuna Hjørring’s Signe Bruun could easily have featured on a list like this. However, I have chosen to include Brøndby IFs Stine Larsen. Larsen personifies the term versatile and can play both as a centre-back and as a centre-forward. Despite her great defensive displays on an international level, she has made it onto this list due to her attacking performances for her club.
She won the 2016/2017 league title with Brøndby. Brøndby lost a number of important players ahead of this 2017/2018 season, putting more responsibility onto players like Larsen and she has stepped up. In the first 14 games of the season, she has netted 11 times.
19. Linda Sällström / Vittsjö GIK (Damallsvenskan) / Finland
Linda Sällström has come back incredibly strong after sustaining three ACL injuries since 2012. Her pace is incredible and if she get the ball in behind the defence they had no chance of catching her. She has been firing on all cylinders this season and has scored 15 goals in 22 matches, which was 62.5% of Vittsjö’s league goals.
Unsurprisingly, she is a name on many club’s wish lists with the likes of Linköping, Eskilstuna, Hammarby, Djugården and foreign clubs reportedly interested in her.
18. Lina Hurtig / Linköpings FC (Damallsvenskan) / Sweden
Linköping lost most of their attacking unit ahead of the 2017 season and as a result they brought in Lina Hurtig from Umeå and Marija Banusic from Eskilstuna. Both have contributed massively to Linköpings FC’s 2017 league title. Hurtig has mostly been used down the left and her speed combined with strength and technical ability has been a constant threat to the oppositions defence. She ended the season with five goals and five assists in the league. In Linköping’s Champions League campaign she has, thus far, played all four games and netted four times, including an important away goal against Sparta Praha.
17. Filippa Angeldahl / Hammarby IF (Damallsvenskan) / Sweden
Damallsvenskan newcomers Hammarby had a fine season and many of their players left a good impression. Emma Holmgren, Alexandra Lindberg, Cathrine Dahlström and especially Julia Zigiotti, to mention a few, have all had good seasons, but I have chosen to single out Filippa Angeldahl. She has been consistently good all year, and has been behind a big part of Hammarby’s attacking play. She is also very much the link between defence and attack and she is a good passer of the ball. She was nominated for both Damallsvenskan breakthrough of the year and most valuable player at the Swedish Football Awards. She ended up winning the latter.
She will not be representing Hammarby next season as she has signed a contract with Linköpings FC.
16. Janni Arnth / Linköpings FC (Damallsvenskan) / Denmark
The experienced defender has been a rock at the heart of the Linköping defence in 2017. Her resolute and calm defensive playing style has been key in Linköping’s pursuit of a second consecutive league title. When Magdalena Eriksson and Jessica Samuelsson, both integral parts of Linköpings defence, left the club in the middle of the season, Arnth had to take on even more responsibility and she did so remarkably. Linköping went on to win the league. It is hard to measure the importance of leadership on a team, but there’s no doubt Arnth had a huge role in that regard, especially considering the number of players Linköping have lost since the end of the 2016 season. On top of that, she is a great defender whose security on the ball and passing ability is incredibly important for a team like Linköping.
15. Tameka Butt / Klepp IL (Toppserien) / Australia
Tameka Butt had a disappointing 2016 in Sweden with Mallbackens IF, but she had a minor revival after joining Klepp before the 2017 Toppserien season. Klepp surprised many when they finished the season as fourth in the league and Butt’s 14 league goals was a big part of that. She also netted three times in Klepps cup run that took them all the way to the semi-final. She scored Klepp’s lone goal in regular time in said semi-final, but Klepp eventually lost on penalties. She was nominated for both Toppserien Midfielder and Player of the Year, but lost out on both to Guro Reiten.
Butt will continue to be an asset to Klepp as she has signed on for another season with the team.
14. Sanne Troelsgaard / FC Rosengård (Damallsvenskan) / Denmark
Sanne Troelsgaard made the move abroad in 2017 as she took the step from KoldingQ in her native Denmark to FC Rosengård in Sweden. The tenacious forward has been one of Rosengårds best this year, and while they lost out on the league title they did claim the domestic cup trophy. Troelsgaard became better and more important for her club as the year progressed (and players left) and she was even tasked with playing fullback when injuries mounted up for the team.
She ended the season with eight goals, a tally that would most likely have been higher had she not had to cover elsewhere on the pitch. Her performances also saw her nominated for midfielder of the year at the Swedish Football awards.
13. Nevena Damjanovic / Fortuna Hjørring (3F Ligaen) / Serbia
Serbian defender Nevena Damjanovic has been one of the best players in the Danish league this year. Fortuna and Damjanovic had to see Brøndby lift the 2016/2017 league title, but this season they are currently leading the league at the halfway point. Just like the team, it is especially the second part of the year that has made her stand out. She is an incredibly strong defender, who also charges up the pitch if the team needs a goal. She has scored six goals in 14 games so far this season, and a few of them have been game winning goals. Furthermore, she also has a cracking free kick.
There was interest in her services from clubs outside of Denmark, but Damjanovic recently signed a six-month extension, which takes her contract to the summer of 2018. It does seem to be more a question of when rather than if she leaves for a bigger league.
12. Ella Masar McLeod / FC Rosengård (Damallsvenskan) / USA
After two years in Sweden with FC Rosengård, Ella Masar is uprooting herself and moving to Germany to play for Wolfsburg. She is doing this on the back of a great season personally with FC Rosengård. FCR had to see Linköping win the title in 2017, but they did win the domestic cup. Masar was the team’s top scorer with 13 goals in 21 matches. She is a fighter who never gives up and she injects an energy into her team. On top of this, she is incredibly versatile and can put in a shift anywhere. That made her very important to Rosengård, and they will miss her presence next season.
11. Guðbjörg Gunnarsdóttir / Djurgårdens IF (Damallsvenskan) / Iceland
Another year has passed, and it has been another year where Guðbjörg Gunnarsdóttir has been solid as a rock. Her invaluable performances in goal helped Djurgården to a sixth place finish and she was subsequently nominated for goalkeeper of the year in Sweden. In her 20 appearances for the Stockholm club, she had six clean sheets and ended up with a safe percentage of 72%. Her importance to Djurgården cannot be overstated. There has been a number of good keeper performances this season in Damallsvenskan with the likes of Hilda Carlén, Brett Maron, Emma Holmgren and Cajsa Andersson all impressing. However, Gunnarsdóttir has stood out from the rest.
10. Mia Carlsson / Kristianstads DFF (Damallsvenskan) / Sweden
Mia Carlsson has had a year to remember. Carlsson started the year as centre-back for Kristianstad, but was moved to the left of the defence and success soon followed. She made the left back position her own and was possibly the best left-back in the league. Her new role also meant she participated in attack and it suited her and the team that she did.
The year 2017 became one of Kristianstad’s best ever seasons as they finished fifth, and Carlsson was an important part of that. Her performances for her club has also seen her become somewhat of a regular for Sweden after Peter Gerhardsson took over.
9. Tamires / Fortuna Hjørring (3F Ligaen) / Brazil
It is impossible not to have Fortuna Hjørring’s Tamires on a list like this. The Brazilian international is a real asset to not only Fortuna, but also to the Danish league in general. Operating down the left, she is a constant source of creativity and energy. Whether in defence or when she is souring up the pitch, she is an incredibly elegant player to watch and she possess great technical finesse. She has seven goals in 14 matches this season and has been named Fortuna’s player of the year.
Tamires is an incredible player and she would not look out of place in some of the best clubs in the world. There has obviously been a lot of interest in signing her, but the Brazilian has, much to the delight of Fortuna, chosen to continue with the Danish club. She signed a two-year contract extension earlier this year.
8. Nanna Christiansen / Brøndby IF (3F Ligaen) / Denmark
The Danish midfielder won the Danish League with Brøndby this summer and as the 2017/2018 league has reached the halfway point they are second in the league. Christiansen, a midfielder, has been one of the biggest reasons behind the club’s success. While she is often used further back as a defensive midfielder for Denmark, she has an attacking role for her club. She finished as the league’s top scorer during the 2016/2017 season with 25 goals in 24 games, with eight of them coming in the play off in 2017. She did not forget how to score over the summer as she has started the 2017/2018 season strong, with nine goals in 14 games.
7. Ingrid Moe Wold / LSK Kvinner (Toppserien) / Norway
Reliable is probably the first word that comes to mind when I think of Ingrid Moe Wold. She is incredibly consistent and always puts in a shift. The right back won a league title with her club in 2017 and she was an integral part of that. LSK lost a number of important players ahead of this season, which meant someone like Moe Wold became even more important, on and off the field, and she delivered. She gives her all on the pitch and gives great defensive cover while also providing and attacking outlet. This was also the year Moe Wold reached an incredible milestone, as it was the year she played her 175th league game in a row for LSK.
6. Theresa Nielsen / Vålerenga IF (Toppserien) / Denmark
In sixth, we have another right back who has been displaying her talents in Norway. Theresa Nielsen probably got her international breakthrough this year, but the 31-year-old right-back has been consistently delivering for a number of years. Club-wise she moved to Vålerenga from Brøndby ahead of the 2017 season and her first move abroad has thus far been a very successful one. She was subsequently named defender of the year in Toppserien. Nielsen is an attacking fullback who never stops working and she gives both attackers and defenders something to worry about.
Nielsen’s future is uncertain, but there’s no doubt her 2017 will have made her an interesting name to many clubs.
5. Claudia Neto / inköpings FC (Damallsvenskan) / Portugal
Claudia Neto is a sensational player who makes everyone around her better too. It is as simple as that. She has been hugely influential for Linköping ever since joining in 2014 and 2017 was no different. She was the midfield engine and when she got injured towards the end of the season, it showed. The hardworking midfielder is technically gifted, strong on the ball and reads the game well. Few are as good as winning the ball back as she is, and once she gets hold of it, it is incredibly hard to get it away from her again.
This year she won the league with Linköping and earned a nomination as midfielder of the year at the Swedish Football Awards. Her impressive display for Linköping saw Wolfsburg swoop in and secure her signature.
4. Faith Ikidi / Piteå IF (Damallsvenskan) / Nigeria
Faith Ikidi goes under the radar internationally, but she has consistently been one of the best defenders in Damallsvenskan for a number of seasons now. This year she might have been the best. Piteå was once again involved in the fight for medals and ended up fourth in the league. They let in fewer goals than any other team, just 20 in 22 games, and Ikidi was instrumental in achieving that. She was named Piteå’s best player in 2017 and also earned a nominated for defender of the year. The award was eventually given to Arsenal’s Jessica Samuelsson.
Ikidi signed a new two-year deal with Piteå earlier this year and I am sure everyone up in northern Sweden are delighted with that.
3. Kristine Minde / inköpings FC (Damallsvenskan) / Norway
Kristine Minde is a Jack of all trades and she has been used just about everywhere on the pitch this year for Linköping. She is an attacking player by nature, but when needed she played as a right back and a centre-back and she did not look an inch out of place. The pacy attacker is one of the most underrated players around, and the 25-year-old has a knack for scoring important goals. Her work rate and attitude is second to none.
She is a dream player to have for any club because of her consistently high performances. From 2018 onwards, those performances will benefit VfL Wolfsburg.
2. Guro Reiten / LSK Kvinner (Toppserien) / Norway
Guro Reiten moved to LSK from Trondheims-Ørn ahead of the 2017 Toppserien season and what a year she has had. She was a big reason behind LSK’s league winning season and is the central player when it comes to their attack. She is an incredibly skilful player, with a good football brain and a real eye for goal. The latter she proved by becoming Toppserien top scorer with 18 goals. At the end of the year, she was awarded both Toppserien midfielder of the year and Toppserien player of the year.
Reiten’s performances catapulted her onto the radar of many European clubs and there was concrete interest from a number of English clubs. However, she has chosen to stay with LSK for the time being.
1. Tabitha Chawinga / Kvarnsvedens IK (Damallsvenskan) / Malawi
The Malawian forward has been a sensation since moving to Sweden, and her 2017 for Kvarnsveden has possibly been her best year yet. She has looked almost unstoppable and she has made life difficult for every defender she has come up against. She ended the year as top scorer in Damallsvenskan with 26 goals in 22 games (63% of Kvarnsveden’s goals) all while playing for a team that was eventually relegated. For that, she also won Forward of the Year.
Her impressive display saw her attract interest from most of Europe’s elite clubs, but she have chosen to continue her career in China.