Join us as we take a closer look at some of the best Asian football players currently playing in Europe:
The continent of Asia which spans from Japan to Middle East and the very edges of Europe, has always been home to many talented footballers. Although it is rare that these footballers find their way to Europe since many prefer to stay in their own region rather than experience the vastly different culture of European countries, occasionally some of those who end up playing in Europe start to dazzle football fans all over the world with their magnificent performances. Players like Hidetoshi Nakata, Mehdi Mahdavikia and Ali Daei, who is the record holder for most international goals with 109 ahead of 2nd placed Cristiano Ronaldo.
We have taken a look at some of the best leagues in Europe to find out how Asian players are doing recently and it seems that unlike before, not only there are Asian players active in Europe in numbers but they are doing pretty well too. So let’s see who are the
best Asian football players currently playing in Europe
and what makes them one of the best!
We have mainly focused on Europe’s top 5 leagues but there are occasionally players from other European leagues amongst the best Asian footballers playing in Europe right now. Let’s see who:
We kick our list of best Asian footballers currently playing in Europe with the only goalkeeper in our list,Amir Abedzadeh
. Son of the legendary Iranian goalkeeper Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, Amir Abedzadeh currently plays in Portugal forC.S. Maritimo
and is known for his acrobatic saves as well as his consistently great performances that have saved Maritimo from dropping many points in the last 3 seasons.
Abedzadeh started his youth career atPersepolis
, the club his father played at, and then he moved to UK, playing or taking trials at Brentford, Arsenal and Tottenham youth academies. The 28-year old didn’t get to the place he is today overnight as he never faltered despite the lack of game time and finally managed to make his professional debut for LA Blues in America.
After a season there he came back to Iran and spent some time with Persepolis and Rah Ahan clubs before once again heading back to Europe in 2016 and this time to Portugal’s Barreirense, a team in the lower leagues. But his performances there impressed Maritimo enough that the club decided to sign him a year later. Since then he has gradually made his way to Maritimo’s first team and is now the club’s No.1 goalkeeper.
As far as his performances go, Abedzadeh has registered an impressive 10 clean sheets in the 29 matches he has played for Maritimo this season, which makes his record the 4th best in the league. he also went viral with a penalty save against Porto earlier in the season. Abedzade is certainly one of the best Asian football players currently playing in Europe and has earned that title through hard work. With the rate that he’s been improving, It’ll be interesting to see if he could secure a move to a bigger club or even replace Beiranvand in Iran’s national team in the near future!
European teams are no strangers to Japanese players as the country has produced many great players since 1990s but seldom are they defenders and even if they are, they don’t find their way to Europe as early as the 22-year oldTomiyasu
has. The Japanese center-back has become a regular at Bologna in Serie A, a league known for its great defenders, and he is certainly one of the best Asian football players playing in Europe top 5 leagues.
Tomiyasu initially trialed at Barcelona’s Soccer Camp in Japan and was offered a place in Barcelona’s La Masia academy but passed on the chance since he couldn’t relocate to Spain. He instead started playing for the Avispa Fukuoka in J-League where his performances quickly generated the interest of the Belgian side Sint-Truiden. He moved to Belgium in 2018 and after only a season with Sint-Truiden,Bologna
came knocking and Tomiyasu answered!
Despite being a center-back, he was utilized as a right-back at Bologna at first and quickly established himself as a starter and was named Bologna’s Player of the Month in his first month of playing for the club. From then on it has been smooth sailing for Tomiyasu.
This season, Tomiyasu has made 30 appearances in Serie A and has been one of Bologna’s top performers. With 3.4 clearances, 1.8 interceptions and 1.4 tackles per game this season, Tomiyasu has been a decent defender in Serie A and certainly one of the
best Asian football players currently playing in Europe
The only Uzbek player on our list of best Asian football players playing in Europe top 5 leagues and one of the few Uzbek players to have actually played in Europe recently is Genoa’s Eldor Shomurodov. The 25-year old striker joined the Italian Serie A side at the start of this current season and has helped Genoa avoid relegation by being the club’s third best goal scorer, despite the fact that he is not a regular starter at the club.
Shomurodov is no stranger to European football as he previously played forFC Rostov
in Russia, having joined them in 2017 from the Uzbek side, Bunyodkar.Shomurodov
is not a striker that scores bags of goals, as his record would suggest, but the fact that he has almost repeated the numbers that he had at Rostov with far less game time and in a far more tougher league atGenoa
this season, speaks volumes about his potential.
Shomurodov has scored 7 goals and registered 1 assist at Genoa this season, having started 15 games and having been subbed-in in 15 more. Additionally, he has registered a 1.2 shots per goal record, which shows he is efficient when it comes to shooting but also points to the fact that he must take more chances. Overall, Shomurodov is one of the best Asian football players currently playing in Europe and the great thing is that he definitely has room to improve!
Despite being only 19, Takefuso Kubo has been a part of both Barcelona and Real Madrid, having played for the Catalan side in the youth setting and Real Madrid at senior level. He is considered by many to be one of the most exciting young talents in Europe and despite not being on par with the rest of players on this list, he is still one of the
best Asian footballers playing in Europe right now
After being part of Barcelona’s La Masia academy, where he scored 74 goals in 30 games, Kubo had to leave the club in 2015 because of them having violated FIFA’s international transfer policy for under-18 youths. He went back to Japan and soon found his way toFC Tokyo
where he was given his professional debut in 2017 and soon after became J-League’s youngest goal scorer by being 15 years and 10 months when he scored against Cerezo Osaka. He became a regular starter however a couple of years later, when he scored 14 goals in 13 games for FC Tokyo in 2019 which prompted Real Madrid to sign the youngster.
Since joining Real Madrid in 2019, the Japanese star has been mainly sent out on loans but wherever he has gone, Kubo has impressed, especially in his loan spell at Mallorca last season, where he was a starter and managed 4 goals and 4 assists. This season however he found a much tougher time starting for Villarreal, despite managing 1 goal and 3 assists in Europa League for them. but Real Madrid terminated his loan and sent him on another loan to Getafe in January where he has since registered 1 goal and 1 assist.
It’ll be interesting to see ifReal Madrid
would ever give him a chance to play for their first team and if he could reach the levels of other best Asian football players currently playing in Europe.
Former Seongnam FC and Gamba Osaka striker, Hwang Ui-Jo has now found his way to Ligue 1’s Bordeaux and the striker/winger has impressed the French media by being a regular goal scorer for the Bordeaux, helping the club avoid relegation and becoming one of the
best Asian footballers currently playing in Europe
by doing so.
A highly skilled dribbler,Hwang Ui-jo
’s technique, height and finishing ability allows him to be able to play as either a winger or a center forward, both of which he has played forBordeaux
since his arrival at the start of last season. an interesting thing to note about Hwang is the fact that he has always played for teams that have struggled with relegation and yet has managed to be a regular goal scorer for all of them, so it’ll be interesting to see if he could actually improve upon his stats by playing for a better side.
But as far as his best position goes, Hwang’s best position seems to be the center forward position as he has made great partnerships with the likes of Adli or Ben Arfa at Bordeaux. Last season he managed 6 goals and 2 assists before Ligue 1 was cut short due to COVID-19 outbreak. But this season he has outdone himself by scoring 12 goals and registering 3 assists, becoming Bordeaux’s top goal scorer and the main reason they have avoided relegation.
One of the best Asian football players currently playing in Europe, the 28-year old Hwang Ui-jo has at least a few more seasons in Europe and with the way he’s been performing, those will surely be better than the already fantastic season he has had this year!
Portuguese league’s 2019-20 top scorer and possibly 2020-21’s best player of the season is none other than the incredible Mehdi Taremi. The Iranian striker who started his football at Shahin, has had one hell of a journey from his days at the lower leagues of Iran to scoring bicycle-kick goals in the Champions League. He is without a doubt one of the best Asian footballers playing in Europe right now and possibly of all time and a perfect example of how far hard work can take you in football.
Born in Bushehr, a city on the coast of Persian Gulf,Taremi
started playing professional football for his hometown team of Shahin but after not getting enough game time he opted to move to Iranjavan in the second-tier league of Iran where he became the competition’s best goal scorer in the 2013-14 season and that earned him a move to Iran’s biggest team, Persepolis. At Persepolis, he started showing his true potential, twice becoming Iran Pro League’s top goal scorer between 2015 and 2017. After that he joined Qatar’s Al-Gharafa in 2017, where he continued to impress.
But when Portugal’s Rio Ave came calling, Taremi didn’t hesitate and took on the challenge. In his first season in Portugal, Taremi managed to score 18 goals and register 2 assists which helped the club to a 5th placed finish and subsequent Europa League qualification. he was named Primeira Liga’s best goal scorer which naturally attracted the interest of Portugal’s biggest team, Porto. It’s important to note that after he transferred to Porto, his old club Rio Ave has struggled massively and has been relegated.
at the start of this season, Taremi has slowly cemented his place as a starter, becoming not only Porto’s top goal scorer but also as the main playmaker. He has scored 16 goals and registered 11 assists becoming the 3rd best goal scorer in Primeira Liga as well as being the competition’s top assist provider. He also played a huge part in Porto’s run in the Champions League by scoring against both Juventus and Chelsea, the latter of which could very well win him the 2021 Psukas award for best goal.
One of the best Asian football players currently playing in Europe, It seems that Taremi only gets better season after season, so it’ll be interesting to see if he could reach new heights next season and possibly even win the Primeira Liga or will he opt to move to a better league in the summer?!
Next up on our list of best Asian footballers currently playing in Europe is another Iranian player,Sardar Azmoun
, who has also won the top goal scorer award a couple of times. Azmoun’s career is an interesting one since he has never played any games in Iran’s Pro League but has instead spent all of his professional football at the Russian Premier League since he joinedRubin Kazan
in 2013 as an 18 year-old.
Azmoun initially started his Rubin Kazan career as a squad player where he appeared mostly in cup competitions and Europa League. then in 2015, in order to get more game time, Azmoun was loaned out to FC Rostov to help them battle relegation, which he did as they scored 3 goals in the league as well as a goal in the relegation play-off. He then extended his loan spell with Rostov and helped the club secure a place in the Champions League qualifying stages for the 2016-17 season. Azmoun went on to show his quality in the competition by scoring against Anderlecht, Ajax, Atletico Madrid and FC Bayern.
At the start of the 2017-18 season, Azmoun returned to Rubin Kazan but after a season and half was on the move again but this time to Zenit St. Petersburg, where he would hit the best form of his career. He scored twice and assisted once in his debut against Fenerbahce and has since been Champions of Russia 3 consecutive times.
After scoring 9 goals in 12 matches in his first 6 months atZenit
, Azmoun went on to score 17 and become Russian Premier League’s top scorer in the 2019-20 season, helping them become champions again. This season he has hit his personal best when it comes to the league competition, as he scored 19 and once again became the top goal scorer in the league, helping Zenit to a 3rd consecutive league title as well as his first Russian Cup. with the way he has been scoring and winning titles, there is no doubt that Azmoun is one of the
best Asian football players currently playing in Europe
and possibly even of all time!
Son Heung Min is certainly one of the
best Asian football players playing in Europe top 5 leagues
but it could be argued that he may be the greatest Asian player ever judging by his performances and the level at which he is performing. The South Korean winger has consistently been one of the best players in the world in the past couple of seasons and he doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.
Much like Sardar Azmoun, who moved to Europe when he was a teenager,Son Heung Min
also moved to Europe to play forHamburg
in Germany. After playing several matches in Hamburg II, he made his debut for the first team in 2010 and went on to stay 3 seasons at Hamburg. On his last season there, Son scored 12 goals in Bundesliga before he moved to another Bundesliga side in 2013, Bayer Leverkusen, for a reported fee of €10 million.
Son’s great form continued at Bayer Leverkusen culminating in him scoring 17 goals in his last season at the club before he joined Tottenham Hotspur in England for €22 million, becoming the most expensive Asian player ever. AtTottenham
and under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettinho, Son reached new heights as he started consistently scoring and assisting 10+ goals every season. despite Tottenham not winning any trophies since Son joined them in 2015, he has gone on to become the first Asian player to be nominated for a Ballon d’Or as well as one of the few to reach the Champions League final.
After winning the 2020 Puskas award for the amazing solo goal he scored against Burnley last season, Son has hit his personal best at Spurs in this ongoing season where he has scored 17 goals and assisted 11 times, becoming one of the best players of the season. his partnership with Harry Kane has been almost telepathic this season and he may finally even get a nod in the Team of the Season, which he truly deserves. So it is only fitting that because of his consistency at the very top level of European football for the entirety of his career, Son Heung Min be at the top of our list of best Asian football players currently playing in Europe.