Asian football’s rise in recent years, partly fuelled by the big money that has been invested, has seen a plethora of big-name stars arrive to ply their trade in the continent.
There has been no shortage of success stories but, for every Didier Drogba, there is a Nicolas Anekla.
FOX Sports Asia continues our countdown to No. 1 today as we enter the top ten, and we promise there is going to be plenty of familiar faces.
10) Pablo Aimar (Johor Darul Ta’zim)
There have been countless up-and-coming Argentine playmakers heralded as “the next Maradona”, but Pablo Aimar arguably came to closest to emulating his legendary compatriot.
After starring at River Plate with a certain Javier Saviola, Aimar earned a move to Spain with Valencia, where he won two La Liga titles and a UEFA Cup, racking up 52 caps along the way while also featuring in the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups.
I hope it doesn't turn out like the Aimar stint in Johor. ?
— T. Avineshwaran (@avineshW90) March 14, 2017
Upon leaving Mestalla, the diminutive then had spells with Real Zaragoza and Benfica before finding himself in Malaysia with Johor Darul Ta’zim, who were only just at the infancy stages of their eventual rise to become the powerhouse they are now.
He showed promise early on but, at times, looked too good for his team-mates, with many of them failing to anticipate his visionary passes.
However, Aimar failed to settle and slowly faded, leaving the club after just eight games, although he did earn a Super League winner’s medal at the end of the season.
9) Ivan Bosnjak (Brunei DPMM)
Ivan Bosnjak may not have been a familiar name to many when he signed for Brunei DPMM at the start of 2013 but many soon expected big things upon a quick glance at his resume.
sebelum masuk ke Persija, Ivan Bosnjak pernah bermain di bbrp club spt, Hajduk Split, Al Ittihad, KRC Genk, dan DPMM FC (Brunei). pic.twitter.com/klov8CWQXR
— Pemain Asing Ligina (@pemainasing) January 28, 2017
A record of 33 goals in 62 league games for Croatian giants Dinamo Zagreb and appearing in the 2006 World Cup hinted at a prolific marksman that would slaughter S.League defences.
Instead, the former Hajduk Split and Genk man barely fired a shot away before being released with just five games to his name.
8) Jay Simpson (Buriram United)
Scoring twice on your first senior start for Arsenal does not always guarantee going on to becoming a real star, but it does set you up pretty well.
While Jay Simpson did not end up succeeding with the Gunners, subsequent stints at Queens Park Rangers and Hull suggested Buriram were getting quite the target man to fire them to success in 2013.
Jay Simpson (Buriram Utd) is not registered with the league for the 2nd half of the season. Though he is still on his contract. 1,5 y left.
— thai-fussball.com (@thaifussballde) July 11, 2014
He was reportedly on £40,000 a month – massive wages by Thailand standards – but it proved to be a poor investment with the London native netting just once in 21 matches.
Simpson’s contract was terminated by mutual consent and he returned to England, where he enjoyed better success with Leyton Orient and has since earned a move to Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union.
7) Lucas Barrios (Guangzhou Evergrande)
Before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Robert Lewandowski, a deadly Paraguayan marksman by the name of Lucas Barrios led the line for Borussia Dortmund at the start of their resurgence round about in 2010.
He netted 21 goals in all competition as Dortmund won their first Bundesliga crown in nine years, before ultimately making way as Lewandowski came to the fore.
Lucas Barrios belongs to Spartak Moscow, who paid U$8.7 mil. to Guangzhou for the former Colo-Colo, and 2x Bundesliga winner with Dortmund.
— F.M. (@BrasileiraoBlog) December 15, 2014
Still, he should have had plenty left in the tank but he failed to fire following his move to Guangzhou Evergrande, reserving his better displays for the less-important Chinese FA Cup.
The 32-year-old is now looking for one final hurrah in Brazil having signed for Gremio earlier this year.
6) Nicolas Anelka (Shanghai Shenhua)
On paper, a player of Nicolas Anelka’s quality should have killed it in the Chinese Super League and gone on to become a legend of Shanghai Shenhua.
Not only did the Frenchman succeed almost everywhere he went in his career, including clubs like Arsenal, Real Madrid and Chelsea, he also had a strike partner he was familiar with in the form of Didier Drogba.
Nicolas Anelka at Shanghai Shenhua:
Jan 2012: Signs from Chelsea
April 2012: Appointed player-coach
Jan 2013: Leaves for Juventus
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 20, 2017
But, then again, Anelka was also known as ‘Le Sulk’, so perhaps it should not have been that surprising there was also an equally good chance things would go south.
Netting just three league goals in 22 games, the 2008/09 Premier League Golden Boot winner left a year after his Chinese adventure had begun, making a quick getaway via a loan spell with Juventus.