By Niloufar Momeni
For a second year, we follow every Asian football player in the Europe.
From Japan, South Korea and North Korea and China, all the way to Iran, Jordan, and Uzbekistan, Asian players have moved to the European continent to advance their football career. Out of these players, many play in second-division leagues of Europe, or smaller European leagues such as Poland, Greece, and Austria which are not considered among the elite.
At Football Tribe Asia, we rank the best ones who currently play in top-flight leagues in England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Netherlands, Russia and Portugal as per UEFA Coefficient ranking.
The followings are top 5 Asian players in the elite football leagues of Europe based on performance and ratings in January 2017.
(Players’ ranking includes considerations such as the number of goals scored, assists, their Pass Accuracy Ratio % and their rating*).
1. Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Iran – Az Alkmaar)
Alireza Jahanbakhsh is an Iranian footballer who is currently plying his trade for Dutch club AZ Alkmaar. The 23-year old started off his second season with AZ Alkmaar aiming to become the team’s top scorer.
In January, Jahanbakhsh was featured in all league games, as well as one Dutch League Cup match for AZ Alkmaar. During the first month of the year, he netted 2 goals, provided one assist, and was selected as the Man of the Match for his outstanding performance against Go Ahead Eagles. Therefore, his rating was the highest among 70 Asian players in January, with a rating of 8.25 out of 10.
2. Yuya Osako (Japan – FC Cologne)
The 26-year old Japanese footballer plays for Bundesliga outfit FC Cologne. This is the first time the attacking midfielder is included in this list in this season. The reason for his high rating this month was his brilliant performance against Darmstadt, in which he netted 2 goals and provided 1 assist, which earned him Man of the Match honor. He was also featured in another match for FC Cologne in January. His rating score is as high as 8.1 out of 10, with a passing accuracy rate of 71%.
3. Shinji Kagawa (Japan – Dortmund)
The third place in this list is a household name of Japanese football. The 27-year-old Shinji Kagawa is on the list for a third consecutive month. Making just one appearance for Borussia Dortmund in January, he was crucial in Dortmund’s victory over Werder Bremen. He earned the rating of 7.78 out of 10, and his passing accuracy rate is 88.7%
4. Reza Ghoochannejad (Iran – SC Heerenveen)
The 29-year old Iranian attacking midfielder is once again included on this list. In January Ghoochannejad appeared in all matches for SC Heerenveen, including one Dutch League Cup match. He had an impressive month, scoring 5 goals in 4 appearances and making it to Eredivisie’s top scorers’ list. His goals earned him the rating of 7.69 in January, with a passing accuracy rate of 79%.
5. Mathew Leckie (Australia – Ingolstadt)
The 26-year old Australian is not a stranger to this list. In January, he was featured in two matches for Ingolstadt, in which he provided an assist. That earned him the rating of 7.38 out of 10 in January. His passing accuracy rate remains at 65%.
Top 10 best Asian players in January
1.Alireza Jahanbaksh (AZ Alkmaar/Iran) 8.25
2. Yuya Osako (Koln/Japan) 8.1
3. Shinji Kagawa (Dortmund/Japan) 7.78
4. Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen/Iran) 7.69
5. Mathew Leckie (Ingolstadt 04/Australia) 7.38
6. Yuto Nagatomo (Inter Milan/Japan) 7.33
7. Gōtoku Sakai (Hamburg/Japan) 7.22
8. Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt/Japan) 7.07
9. Brad Jones (Feyenoord/Australian) 7
10. Yuki Kobayashi (SC Heerenveen/Japan) 6.76