On Monday, Barcelona captain Alexia Putellas – the woman dubbed “la reina” (The queen) – became the first woman to win the Ballon d’Or in two successive years, with Arsenal’s Beth Mead having to settle for second place, and Sam Kerr of Chelsea completing the podium.
That is despite the fact that she has not played since picking up a serious injury in July, suffering an ACL tear in her left knee. She underwent surgery a week later, and is now hoping to return to action before the end of this season.
That injury deprived her of the chance to play for Spain in the European Championships in the summer, and so important is she to the national team, that some blamed her absence for the fact that they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by the eventual winners England.
However, it was what Putellas did during the 2021/2022 season with her club side Barcelona that really won her the award. She played an instrumental role as her team won a domestic treble (league, Cup and Super Cup), and was part of the team that reached the Champions League final for a second consecutive year, playing in front of record crowds for women’s football.
Despite being favourites to retain the trophy, they were beaten 3 – 1 by Lyon in Turin.
Although she finished on the losing side, the Spaniard was still named MVP and was part of the competition’s Squad of the Season.
In all last season, before her injury, Putellas had appeared in 43 games, scoring 34 goals and providing 21 assists. Her 11 goals made her the top scorer in the Champions League, whilst she was the third highest scorer in the Spanish League, having found the net 18 times.
The 28 year old has earned 100 senior caps for Spain, scoring 27 times.
Putellas has been described as the perfect Barcelona midfielder, in the mould of Xavi and Andrés Iniesta at their best, with her vision, passing ability and accuracy, and has also been hailed for her leadership abilities. Iniesta himself has said that she embodies the values of the club.
Her fame extends off the pitch as well. In the recently released video simulation game FIFA 23, she has been given a ranking of 92. That is the highest ranking that any female football player has been given in the history of the popular game franchise.