Asian football always finds it difficult to export its talent to Europe and the big stage of football; at least that was the case in the last two decades, even though that has been changing recently.
Asia has produced some top footballing talent over the years, from Hidetoshi Nakata and Keisuke Honda to Son Heung-min, Park Ji-Sung, Hidetoshi Nakata, Shunsuke Nakamura, Shinji Kagawa, Cha Bum-Kun and Ali Daei (who once held the record for most international goals).
They are still so many great asian football youngsters who are playing well.
Here, TOP SOCCER BLOG brings you the top 10 young Asian footballers in 2023.
1. Zidane Iqbal
Club: Manchester United
Zidane Iqbal has finally made his international debut with Iraq, and what many are waiting for is his League debut for Manchester United even though he has been able to break record to become the first British South Asian to play for Manchester United in the Premier League and also in the UEFA Champions League.
Zidane Iqbal plays in the midfield position and is versatile, as he can play in the central, defensive, and attacking positions.
He has featured in several youth tournaments for Iraq, but a debut in the Premier League awaits the youngster.
He is a skillful, attack-minded, and technically gifted player, who is capable to creating goalscorinh opportunities.
2. Takefuso Kubo
Club: Real Sociedad
Kubo is just only 21, but it seems like he has been around forever. At some point, he was on the books of Real Madrid, although he never played a game for them.
He started as a youngster in his native Japan, Kubo was signed by Barcelona to enrol at their famous La Masia academy.
But the club were later sanctioned by FIFA for violating the international transfer policy for U-18 players, thus terminating his contract and making the player ineligible for the club.
He returned to Japan and rejuvenated his career, and subsequently earned himself a move to Real Madrid.
He has made over 21 appearances for the Japanese national team since his debut in 2019.
His CV as a youngster is quite impressive, having played for six clubs, including loan stints, with two of them at Mallorca.
However, this may also be a pointer to his struggles of trying to settle down in Europe’s big leagues, although that stability he seems to have found at Real Sociedad, where he has scored five goals in 23 La Liga games this season.
3. Garang Kuol
Club: Heart of Midlothian (on loan from Newcastle United)
Garang Kuol is one of the young stars that are expected to grow into a big force in Asian football in the coming years, and his recent move to Newcastle United in the Premier League is a testament.
The teenage star has been generating a lot of buzz since he made his debut for Australia. He directness, speed, and dribbling skills earned him praises from pundits.
He also made his Australian debut before the world cup and also making his World Cup debut as a teenager, and he is the youngest player to play at the world cup knockout stage since Pele in 1958.
The future looks bright for Kuol
4. Kang-In Lee
Country: South Korea
Kang-In Lee was a part of the South Korean under-20 team that got to the finals of the 2019 FIFA under-20 World Cup in Poland, the same tournament that produced Erling Haaland.
The South Korean won the Asian Young Football of the Year in 2019 after guiding South Korea to a runners-up place at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup — where he won the Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament. He also won the Copa del Rey with Valencia the same year
He moved to Mallorca this season and has already become a big part after making 25 La Liga appearances with three goals and four assists.
5. Allahyar Sayyadmanesh
Club: Hull City
Allahyar Sayyadmanesh has moved like a journeyman, but he has found his way into the English Championship, where he currently plays for Hull City.
The striker is highly rated and considered as one of the top 60 youngsters in the world by The Guardian.
He is Iran’s youngest goalscorer, and he is expected to take the mantle of Mehdi Terami in the national team colors.
6. Saud Abdulhamid
Country: Saudi Arabia
Club: Al Hilal
Saud is one of the few defensive players on the list, and that’s majorly because he is in a class of his own as a young fullback.
He’s already made the national team fullback spot his and has played twenty-seven times since his debut in 2019.
For Al Hilal, he’s made over thirty appearances despite joining last year from Al-Ittihad.
7. Yukinari Sugawara
Club: AZ Alkmaar
AZ Alkmaar has got one of the most promising central defenders from Asia on their books in Yukinari Sugarawa, who has been with them as a 19-year-old in 2020.
He’s closing in on his 100th appearance for the club in all competitions, although he seems to need to do more to add to his three appearances for Japan at the international level.
8. Takuhiro Nakai
Club: Real Madrid Castilla
Where Takefuso Kubo failed, Takuhiro Nakai (aka Pipi) is hoping to make big headways there as he continues his development with Real Madrid Castilla.
When Barcelona signed Takefuso Kubo in 2013 into their academy, Nakai was signed as a nine-year-old into Real Madrid’s academy.
He was known for his skills with the ball as a kid, but senior team football is still a bit beyond his reach, but it’s only a matter of time.
9. Ayman Yahya
Country: Saudi Arabia
Club: Al Nassr
Yahya is one of the most exciting wingers in Asian football at the moment playing for Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia, although he looks destined for Europe soon.
In 13 League matches that he has played this season, he scored three goals and made one assist. He won the Asian U23 Cup last season with the Saudi Arabia Olympic team.
10. Woo-yeong Jeong
Country: South Korea
During his teenage years, Woo-yeong Jeong had a lot of promise and was signed by Bayern Munich.
However, he only made a single senior appearance for the Bavarians before moving to Freiburg in 2019.
With Freiburg, he has found stability with over 70 appearances in total for the club since 2019.
Last season was one of the best he’s had with them, with five goals, and two assists in 32 games. He may need a little bit of consistency going forward.