We know, we know—no one will ever agree on who the best player in the world is. But Sam Mewis is making the case that she has to be included whenever we have the conversation.
Players like Marta and Christine Sinclair are legends of the game, and at one point, they both had a claim to be the best in the world. But while both are still performing at a high level, they’re no longer at their peak.
Over the last couple of years, several players have vied to assume their title of the best in the world.
Olympique Lyonnais Féminin are the most successful club team of the past decade. It’s hard to argue that players such as Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry, and Dzsenifer Marozsán aren’t in contention for the best in the world as long as they continue to dominate for Lyon.
In the FAWSL, Chelsea’s Pernille Harder and Sam Kerr and Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema have consistently made cases for themselves, as well as Manchester City stars such as Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton, who have been integral for England as well.
However, a fantastic 2019 and an even better 2020 has seen Mewis skyrocket into the conversation. On the second episode of JWS’ The Soccer Show, David Copeland-Smith described her ascension:
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A post shared by Just Women’s Sports (@justwomenssports)
Looking ahead to 2021, the 28-year-old is just entering her prime, and she will likely make a case for herself as one of the best by the end of the year. According to ESPN, she’s already there:
50 of the best players in the game right now 🤩Welcome to ESPN's first ever ranking of the best women's players in world football: https://t.co/AshRxGFel5 pic.twitter.com/mJmVgnVTtM— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 23, 2021
50 of the best players in the game right now 🤩Welcome to ESPN's first ever ranking of the best women's players in world football: https://t.co/AshRxGFel5 pic.twitter.com/mJmVgnVTtM
Mewis’ skillset is what has propelled her to stardom; there simply aren’t many players like her around.
In the modern game, multi-dimensional players are far more important than in decades prior. Gone are the days where the ten outfield players had one specific role on the pitch. Now, players are expected to be as versatile as possible. The more diverse set of skills a player has, the more valuable they become.
The evolution of the midfielders’ role is an example of this. A box-to-box midfielder often has the duties of both an attacking midfielder and a defensive one. In possession, they’ll be high up the pitch supporting the forward players, and out of possession, they’ll be situated in front of the defensive line.
A box-to-box midfielder gives a manager and their team the best of both worlds. And that’s what Mewis is: an excellent box-to-box midfielder, whose goals and assists are only an added bonus. She can defend well, head the ball away from danger, create chances, and dribble out of tight spaces.
As such an all-around player, it was almost too easy for her when she left North Carolina Courage to go to Manchester City. New country, new league, but no problem for Mewis.
She adapted to her new club’s playing style as quick as ever, and has shown her worth with big performances in both the FAWSL and the Champions League. Early in the season, her goals in both the semi-final and the final of the FA Cup helped secure the trophy for Man City.
Coming off of the FIFA Women’s World Cup win, a win which Mewis was integral to, she played in eight out of nine matches for the USWNT in 2020. Her performances in these 8 matches led to her being named the U.S Soccer Female Player of the Year for 2020. Her great form continued in 2021 with her first ever hat trick in a win against Columbia.
USA 4-0 ColombiaSam Mewis scores a hat trick as @USWNT start an Olympic year with the W 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/3aWZreL6af— B/R Football (@brfootball) January 19, 2021
USA 4-0 ColombiaSam Mewis scores a hat trick as @USWNT start an Olympic year with the W 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/3aWZreL6af
Mewis’ Manchester City are currently second in the league, with a possible title decider coming up against Chelsea on April 25th. The club have also made it through to the Quarter-Finals of the Champions League. They’re currently down 0-3 to Barcelona after the first leg on March 24th. City have to hope that Mewis is in top form if they have any chance of a comeback.
For the USWNT, the next major tournament is the upcoming Olympics, and barring any injuries, Mewis will likely be one of the first on Vlatko Andonovski’s list.
Should Mewis continue her fantastic performances (there is no current evidence to suggest she’s slowing down) and add some more trophies to her collection, the “best in the world” title could become glued to her name.