Kuala Lumpur: Goals against Bayern Munich, Juventus and Chelsea were just the beginning as Asian players outside the continent excelled throughout the course of the last week.
Mehdi Taremi took his dream run to the UEFA Champions League, Daichi Kamada brought down the world champions, and Takumi Minamino, Eldor Shomurodov and Takuma Asano were in goal-scoring form as the cream of the continent starred for their respective clubs.
But who was the standout performer? Peruse our 10-player shortlist based on performances from February 18 to 24, and don’t forget to cast your vote.
There are no women players among this week’s nominees due to the FIFA International Window.
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Lee Kang-in (Valencia, Korea Republic)
90 minutes, 1 assist, 85% pass accuracy, 19 duels won (2-0 v Celta de Vigo)
Lee Kang-in made the most of his recall to the starting line-up to emerge as the best man on the pitch for Javi Gracia’s side, producing a moment of inspiration to set up Manu Vallejo’s 93rd-minute breakthrough goal before Valencia added a second in the dying moments.
Mehdi Taremi (FC Porto, IR Iran)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 3 interceptions (2-1 v Juventus)
90 minutes,1 assist, 2 shot assists, 94% pass accuracy (2-1 v Maritimo)
It seems like every week is a new high watermark for Taremi at the moment. He took just 61 seconds to score against Italian giants Juventus in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 last Wednesday, becoming the fifth Iranian player to score in the competition, then set up Porto’s opener in their narrow league win on Monday.
Eldor Shomurodov (Genoa CFC, Uzbekistan)
45 minutes, 1 goal, 71% pass accuracy (2-2 v Hellas Verona)
How to make an impact as a half-time substitute. Uzbekistan’s star man took just three minutes after his introduction to find the back of the net against Verona, with Genoa ultimately battling their way to a dramatic draw.
Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt, Japan)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 1 assist, 77% pass accuracy (2-1 v Bayern Munich)
Japan’s Daichi Kamada has had several memorable performances in this Bundesliga campaign, but this may top the lot. The former Sagan Tosu midfielder scored one goal and set up the other as Eintracht Frankfurt conquered the European champions.
Takumi Minamino (Southampton, Japan)
79 minutes, 1 goal, 68% pass accuracy (1-1 v Chelsea)
A well-timed run, two shot feints, an unerring finish and Takumi Minamino was on the scoresheet for the second time in three Southampton matches. The Japanese forward has shown his class since joining the Saints on loan, but despite his food form, remains without a maiden win.
Shahab Zahedi (Zorya Luhansk, IR Iran)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 68% pass accuracy (1-0 v FC Mariupol)
A starting debut to remember for Zahedi, who showed skill, poise and resilience to slam home his first goal in Zorya colours. The Iranian striker may be new to Zorya, but he is now a well-known figure in Ukraine. No one has scored more goals than him in the league this season.
Trent Sainsbury (KV Kortrijk, Australia)
90 minutes, 1 goal, 9 interceptions, 5 clearances (2-0 v Anderlecht)
Countless Asian stars have been praised for their attacking exploits in Belgium this season, but it’s a defender in Australia’s Trent Sainsbury who earns a nomination this week. The 2015 AFC Asian Cup winner pounced on a goalkeeping error to score the opening goal and marshalled a defence which kept Anderlecht without a single shot on target.
Takuma Asano (Partizan Belgrade, Japan)
69 minutes, 1 goal, 80% pass accuracy, 12 duels won (3-0 v Radnik Surdulica)
A first competitive goal of the new year for Takuma Asano, who steered home his 13th of the season in all competitions for Partizan. The former Arsenal man is helping the Belgrade club to a superb run of results. They’ve won 11 matches in a row.
Jiloan Hamad (HNK Gorica, Iraq)_
40 minutes, 1 assist, 87% pass accuracy (3-0 v NK Lokomotiva)
A commendable cameo from Iraq international Jiloan Homad, who produced an interception and assist with the same touch as HNK Gorica eased to a 3-0 win. Gorica are mounting an unlikely title charge in Croatia and sit just five points adrift of leaders Dinamo Zagreb.
Parvizjon Umarboev (Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Tajikistan)_
64 minutes, 1 assist, 2 shot assists, 78% pass accuracy (3-2 Ludogorets)
Tajikistan midfielder Parvizjon Umbarboev is back on our list after assisting Lokomotiv to a crucial win in Bulgaria, helping to set up Dimitar Iliev’s fabulous goal in a 3-2 victory over the defending champions. With eight games remaining, Umarboev’s men are now just five points behind Ludogorets.
*Poll ends at 14:00 (UTC+8) on February 28.
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