Salma Paralluelo could round off perfect year with Golden Girl award

Spain forward Salma Paralluelo gathers her breath.
Spain forward Salma Paralluelo gathers her breath during the 2023 Women's World Cup final against England at Stadium Australia in Sydney. (Photo by IZHAR KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Salma Paralluelo could be about to cap off a remarkable year after being named as a nominee for the Golden Girl award as the best player in Europe under the age of 21 for 2023.

She is one of four Barcelona players to make the shortlist alongside teammates Vicky López, Esmee Brugts and Giulia Dragoni.

From track to pitch

Paralluelo was one of the breakout stars of the 2023 World Cup. The winger scored in both the quarter- and semi-finals as La Roja won their first-ever senior women’s crown.

Should the Zaragoza-born flyer win the trophy, it would complete an incredible transition from the athletics track, where she was a gifted 400-meter hurdler.

She won two gold medals at the 2019 European Youth Summer Olympic Festival. That same year, she became the second youngest-ever athlete to compete in the European Indoor Athletics Championships. She was just 15 years old.

Paralluelo’s swift ascent in football

On the football pitch, her ascent to stardom has been meteoric since signing for Villarreal in 2019. While an ACL injury hindered her time with the Yellow Submarine, she still bagged 23 goals in 37 appearances.

One of those goals received a 2022 Puskas Award nomination for goal of the year as she rifled a long-distance shot home against Barcelona.

The Catalan giants clearly took the view of ‘if you can’t beat them, buy them’, as Paralluelo made the move in the summer of 2022, notching 15 goals as Barça steamrollered their way to the Liga F, Supercopa Feminina, and Champions League trophies.

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In Australia and New Zealand, she was the Young Player of The Tournament as she helped destroy England’s dreams in the final. She added the Senior Women’s World Cup to the U20 and U17 world titles.

Following her efforts for both club and country, Paralluelo came third overall in the 2023 Ballon d’Or awards.

Not turning 20 until November, there is a lot more to come from one of the most exciting young players on the planet. It’s a Paralluelo universe, and we’re just living in it.

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