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Mehdi Taremi, Sam Kerr, Eldor Shomurodov and more: Vote for your AFC International Player of the Week!

Kuala Lumpur: Our weekly ode to Asia’s outstanding performers outside the continent returns for the first time in 2021, with a string of terrific performances raising heat in the midst of the European winter.

Mehdi Taremi, Eldor Shomurodov and Lee Kang-in were all on the scoresheet, while Sam Kerr and Ji So-yun continued their exceptional impact at English giants Chelsea, but who deserves the title of the first AFC International Player of the Week of 2021?

Study our shortlist – based on performances from January 6 to 13 – and don’t forget to cast your vote.

See also :

Mehdi Taremi (FC Porto, IR Iran)
77 minutes, 2 goals, 9 duels won (4-1 v Famalicão)
120 minutes, 1 goal, 1 assist, 5 interceptions (4-2 a.e.t. v Nacional)

Iranian striker Taremi was a regular fixture in this poll in the final months of 2020, but it’s unlikely any of those inclusions followed a better week of football than the one he has just completed.

A league brace against Famalicão was impressive in itself, but he followed up by providing the 88th-minute assist which kept FC Porto in the Portuguese Cup, then scoring the fourth and final goal himself in extra-time.

Eldor Shomurodov (Genoa, Uzbekistan)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 17 duels won (1-2 v Sassuolo)
81 minutes, 3 shot assists, 4 progressive runs (2-0 v Bologna)

Few Asian players have powered into the new year like Uzbekistan’s star striker, who followed his terrific assist against Lazio with a pair of terrific performances for relegation-threatened Genoa.

Shomurodov’s towering header against Sassuolo was impressive, but his contribution to three crucial points against Bologna could go a long way towards securing the club’s top flight survival come season’s end.

Sam Kerr (Chelsea, Australia)
63 minutes, 2 assists (5-0 v Reading)

Australia’s outstanding striker shone bright in her first outing, but it was her value as a provider rather than scorer of goals which came to the fore in Chelsea’s 5-0 FA Women’s Super League thumping of Reading.

The Matildas captain supplied two assists, both to Fran Kirby, who found the net four times for the defending champions.

Ji So-yun (Chelsea, Korea Republic)
33 minutes, 1 goal, 36 passes completed, 2 shot assists (5-0 v Reading)

Chelsea’s three points may have been safe before she set foot on the pitch, but cameos don’t come much better than the one delivered by Ji So-yun in the same match.

The Korean star was everywhere, creating chances, completing 95% of her passes and scoring a typically inventive goal.

Saman Ghoddos (Brentford, IR Iran)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 1 assist, 79% pass accuracy (2-1 v Middlesbrough)

Iranian international Saman Ghoddos makes his first appearance in this poll after helping Brentford to an FA Cup Third Round win over Middlesbrough.

The on-loan Team Melli forward made the most of a rare start to score and assist, registering his first goal for the Bees at the 19th attempt.

Ali Gholizadeh (Charleroi, IR Iran)
90 minutes, 2 assists, 6 successful dribbles (2-3 v KV Oostende)

One of Asia’s increasingly prominent Belgian contingent, Gholizadeh continued his terrific season with a pair of superb assists for Charleroi.

Despite the Iranian’s contribution, and a run of form which has seen him directly involved in four goals in his last four matches, Charleroi’s defeat means they are now nine points adrift of leaders Club Brugge.

Junya Ito (KRC Genk, Japan)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 1 assist, 51 passes completed (4-1 v Eupen)
90 minutes, 1 secondary assist (1-2 v Kortrijk)

Staying in Belgium, where in-form Junya Ito wasted no time in leaving his stamp on the new year with a terrific display in Genk’s easy 4-1 win over Eupen.

The 2018-19 league champion scored the opener, then set up Genk’s second in a standout first-half performance, taking his tally to five goals and nine assists in the league this season.

Hiroki Sakai (Olympique Marseille, Japan)
90 minutes, 50 passes completed, 94% pass accuracy (3-1 v Montpellier)
90 minutes, 22 recoveries made, 20 duels won, 2 shot assists (0-0 v Dijon)

Across the border, but at the opposite end of the pitch, Samurai Blue right-back Hiroki Sakai delivered two consummate performances as Olympique Marseille took four points from their first two Ligue 1 outings of 2021.

The 30-year-old regularly won the ball, and even more regularly used it effectively, finding a teammate with 100 of 112 passes across the two matches.

Shahriar Moghanlou (Santa Clara, IR Iran)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 1 assist, 85% aerial duels won (2-1 v Moreirense)

A new face in this poll, Shahriar Moghanlou added his name to the ever-expanding list of Iranian players scoring goals in European football with a match-winning Portuguese Cup performance for Santa Clara.

The towering striker caused all sorts of problems for Moreirense, outjumping the opposing goalkeeper Mateus Pasinato to nod home the 97th-minute winner.

Lee Kang-in (Valencia CF, Korea Republic)
60 minutes, 1 goal, 1 shot assist, 95% pass accuracy (4-1 v Yeclano)
74 minutes, 90% pass accuracy (1-0 v Real Valladolid)

Rounding out our list is a successful pair of performances from Korea Republic’s Spain-based wonderkid, who began his year with a carefully struck Copa del Rey strike against Yeclano.

That was the 19-year-old’s first competitive goal since July, and hopefully a good omen ahead of what could be a fruitful 2021 for one of Asia’s most talented youngsters.

*Poll ends on January 17, 14:00 (UTC+8)

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