Football, or soccer as it is known in some parts of the world, is the most popular sport on the planet. In Asia, football has a huge following with millions of fans cheering on their favorite teams and players. Over the years, Asia has produced some of the best football players in the world. In this article, we will take a look at the top 10 best footballers in Asia.
10. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Feyenoord and Iran)
The Iranian winger has been playing in Europe since 2013, first with NEC Nijmegen and then with AZ Alkmaar, where he became the top scorer of the Eredivisie in 2017-18. He moved to Brighton in 2018 but struggled to find regular playing time in the Premier League. He returned to the Netherlands in 2021, joining Feyenoord on loan. Jahanbakhsh is a skillful and versatile attacker who can play on either flank or as a second striker. He has scored 19 goals for Iran in 58 appearances, including four at the 2019 Asian Cup making him one of the best footballers in Asia.
9. Akram Afif (Al-Sadd and Qatar)
The Qatari forward was named the AFC Player of the Year for 2019, after leading his country to their first-ever Asian Cup title. He provided 10 assists and scored one goal in seven games at the tournament, earning him the MVP award. Afif plays his club football for Al-Sadd, where he has won four domestic titles and one AFC Champions League under coach Xavi Hernandez. He is a creative and dynamic player who can operate as a winger, a playmaker, or a striker. He has scored 23 goals for Qatar in 66 games and will be one of their key players at the 2022 World Cup.
8. Hassan Al-Haydos (Al-Duhail and Qatar)
The captain of Qatar and Al-Duhail, Al-Haydos is one of the most experienced and influential players in Asia. He made his debut for Qatar in 2007, at the age of 17, and has since become their all-time leading scorer with 32 goals in 138 games. He has also won eight league titles and two Emir Cups with Al-Duhail, as well as the AFC Champions League in 2011. Al-Haydos is a versatile midfielder who can play on either wing or behind the striker. He is known for his dribbling, passing, and shooting skills.
7. Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal and Japan)
The Japanese defender has been playing in Europe since 2017 when he joined Bologna from Avispa Fukuoka. He impressed with his versatility and consistency, playing as a center-back or a right-back for the Italian club. He moved to Arsenal in 2021 for £16m, becoming the first Japanese player to play for the Gunners. He has quickly adapted to the Premier League, becoming a regular starter and earning praise from fans and pundits with many ranking him amongst the best footballers in asia. Tomiyasu is a reliable and composed defender who can also join the attack with his pace and crossing ability.
6. Abdelkarim Hassan (Al-Sadd and Qatar)
The Qatari defender was named the AFC Player of the Year for 2018, after helping his club and country to win several trophies. He was part of the Al-Sadd team that won the Qatari league, cup, and super cup, as well as reaching the semifinals of the AFC Champions League. He was also part of the Qatar team that won the Asian Cup for the first time in 2019, scoring three goals from left-back. Hassan is a powerful and athletic defender who can also contribute offensively with his crosses and long-range shots.
5. Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton & Hove Albion and Japan)
Kaoru Mitoma has been firing on all cylinders this season. Mitoma began his professional football career with J.League club Kawasaki Frontale in 2016, where he played for five seasons and helped the team win several domestic titles. In 2021, Mitoma signed for Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. for an undisclosed fee.
Since joining the club, he has made several appearances in the English Premier League and also in cup competitions. Mitoma is known for his dribbling skills, quick feet, and ability to create chances for his teammates. He is considered one of the most promising young talents in Japanese football and is expected to have a bright future in the sport.
4. Hwang Hee-chan (Wolfsburg and South Korea)
The South Korean forward has been playing in Germany since 2020, first with RB Leipzig and then with Wolfsburg where he joined Wolfsburg on loan in January 2021. He scored seven goals in 16 games for Wolfsburg, helping them to finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League. He then moved to Wolves on loan in August 2021, with an option to buy for £14m.
He made an impressive start to his Premier League career, scoring four goals in his first five games, including a brace against Newcastle. Hwang is a fast and agile forward who can play on the wing or as a central striker. He has also scored 10 goals for South Korea in 51 games.
3. Sardar Azmoun (Bayer Leverkusen and Iran)
The Iranian striker has been playing in Europe since 2013 when he joined Rubin Kazan from Sepahan. He then moved to Rostov in 2015, where he scored 32 goals in 89 games, including one against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. He joined Zenit St Petersburg in 2019, where he became one of the best strikers in Russia, scoring 58 goals in 95 games and winning three league titles and two cups.
He moved to Bayer Leverkusen in January 2022 for a reported fee of €25m, becoming the most expensive Asian player ever. Azmoun is a clinical and composed finisher who can also create chances for his teammates with his passing and movement. He has scored 37 goals for Iran in 58 games, resulting him in being one of the best footballers in Asia.
2. Mehdi Taremi (FC Porto and Iran)
The Iranian forward has been playing in Portugal since 2019 when he joined Rio Ave from Al-Gharafa. He scored 18 goals in 31 games for Rio Ave, attracting the interest of FC Porto, who signed him in 2020. He scored 23 goals in 48 games for Porto in his first season, helping them to finish second in the league and reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League, where he scored a spectacular overhead kick against Chelsea.
He has continued his fine form this season, scoring 19 goals in 29 games so far, including four in the Champions League group stage. Taremi is a powerful and versatile forward who can play as a target man or a second striker. He has also scored 25 goals for Iran in 54 games, forming a lethal partnership with Azmoun.
1. Son Heung-min (Tottenham and South Korea)
The undisputed best footballers in Asia at the moment is Son Heung-min, who has been playing in Europe since 2008 when he joined Hamburg from FC Seoul. He then moved to Bayer Leverkusen in 2013, where he scored 29 goals in 87 games, before joining Tottenham in 2015 for £22m. He has since become one of the best players in the Premier League and the world, scoring over 100 goals for Spurs and forming a prolific partnership with Harry Kane.
He has also won three individual awards: the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year in 2019-20, the FIFA Puskas Award for the best goal of the year in 2020, and the AFC Asian International Player of the Year four times (2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020). Son is a fast and skillful winger who can also play as a striker or a playmaker.
These are the 10 best footballers in Asia currently, but there are many more who deserve recognition and appreciation. Asia is a continent with a passionate and loyal football fan base, and its players have shown that they can inspire and entertain millions of people around the world.
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