The focus of this week’s top five players to grace the Premier League is Asia, specifically Japan and South Korea.
To date, only 30 players from the continent of Asia have graced the Premier League, leaving options for this week’s top 5 rather limited.
The majority of Asian players to play in the Premier League are either from Japan or South Korea, arguably the two biggest and best Asian footballing nations. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to see the top five consisting solely of Japanese and Korean players.
In no particular order……
Son Heung-minEmbed from Getty Images
The man who has made a lot of FPL managers happy this season, Son’s form at Tottenham has got people talking about as to whether he could become the greatest ever Asian to play in the Premier League.
Son started his career at FC Seoul, before spells with Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen in Germany. Spurs signed the forward for £22 million in 2015, making him the most expensive Asian footballer of all time. He has many admirers, and not just because of his recent performances. Off the pitch, Son is known to have an infectious personality, making him well-regarded both on and off the field.
So far, Son has netted 47 goals for Tottenham, and has been an integral part in Mauricio Pochettino side. Each season he seems to be getting better and better, and it’ll be exciting to see what level of quality he can reach in the future.
Shinji OkazakiEmbed from Getty Images
Another Asian player to arrive in the Premier League via the Bundesliga is Shinji Okazaki, who signed for Leicester City in 2015 from FSV Mainz.
Okazaki was a part of the astounding 2015/16 Leicester City side that won the league against all odds, with his hard-working performances earning him Asian Player of the Year. His tireless work-ethic and immense desire has won the Japanese striker a lot of plaudits, making him a legend amongst Leicester supports.
Maya YoshidaEmbed from Getty Images
Nagasaki-born Yoshida doesn’t make a lot of headlines, but he has been consistently solid at the back for Southampton for the best part of six years.
Yoshida has racked up over 110 league appearances for the Saints, playing in the heart of the defence. Yoshida has impressive international credentials as well, making 80 appearances and scoring 10 times for Japan. Throughout most of 2018 he has been suffering with a knee problem but should be fit in time for Japan’s World Cup campaign this summer.
Southampton are having their worst season for a long time, and it could be a little more than a coincidence that this has occurred with Yoshida being side-lined.
Park Ji-sungEmbed from Getty Images
Park is undoubtedly a United legend, making 134 appearances and scoring 19 times.
An incredibly versatile player, Sir Alex deployed him in almost every position within United’s midfield. Park has had string of great moments at Old Trafford, including becoming the first Asian to captain Manchester United, the first Asian to win the Champions League and the first Korean to win the Premiership.
With 13 trophies during his time in Manchester, including four Premier League winners medals, Park is the most decorated Asian player in the world, and is definitely considered one of the best Asians to ever grace the Prem.
Shinji KagawaEmbed from Getty Images
The second Shinji on the list, Kagawa moved to Manchester United for just over £14 million in 2012. The attacking midfielder came as a highly rated prospect, following several impressive seasons at Borussia Dortmund.
Kagawa’s time in England was blighted by injuries, but he did display his quality by becoming the first Japanese player to win a PL medal, and the first ever Asian player to score a Premier League hat-trick. Kagawa was highly praised by Sir Alex Ferguson, but unfortunately fell out of favour at United after Moyes took the reins, eventually being sold back to Dortmund.
Despite never quite living up to his potential at Old Trafford, Kagawa did have some fleeting moments of quality. Coupled with his two records, he definitely warrants a place in the top five.
Written by Calum Ridgewell.
Feature writer for 90MAAT. Football and beer enthusiast. Student at the University of Liverpool and future PR pro. Waiting for Blackpool to get to the Premier League…… Twitter: @ridgewellfooty