Asian watch in the Premier League

Niño Paulo Gacusana Niño Paulo Gacusana

There aren’t too many Asians plying their trade in the Premier League, but for those Japanese and Koreans that are there, they are flying Asia’s flag in the richest football league there is.

Here, we’ll be taking a look on how they’re doing, and what’s in store for them and their respective clubs as the season winds down.

Maya Yoshida

The Japanese stopper has yet to make the pitch since Southampton hired Mark Hughes, but he’s coming off a knee injury and skipped national team duty during the international window to regain fitness. The Saints are in the FA Cup semi-final, and in the relegation zone, and the new boss can’t just break up the partnership of Jack Stephens and Wesley Hoedt at centre back. Yoshida is an intriguing prospect though, just in case the two don’t hold up to what the opposition brings to them.

Yoshida does have plenty of experience at Southampton, and Hughes should look into this if he wants to shake things up at the back. Interestingly, Yoshida also needs playing time ahead of the World Cup, to impress his bosses at the Japan national team. Whether he gets it with a new manager at this sensitive time for the Saints, remains to be seen. Yoshida is a respected voice in the locker room, but can he translate that on the pitch on his return from injury?

Shinji Okazaki

Yoshida’s Japan teammate Shinji Okazaki has a lot to prove as he was left out of the squad that faced Mali and Ukraine late last month. Vahid Halilhodžić has questioned Okazaki’s role at Leicester City, as he hasn’t been scoring goals of late. However, his boss in Leicester, Claude Puel, encouraged the #3 all-time top scorer for the Samurai Blue not to give up on his World Cup dream. Okazaki just returned from injury though, which should explain his current form. He should get opportunities when the Foxes face Newcastle United. Puel though, aside from offering encouragement, has to set up Okazaki to succeed.

Ki Sung-yueng

The Korean from Swansea City seems to be decided on pursuing other options at the end of the season as he hasn’t yet signed a new contract. Ki last figured in the 0-2 loss against Manchester United, where he was substituted after just 46 minutes. He has scored two goals in 17 appearances, but it remains to be seen where the Korean will end up next season. Is a move to AC Milan is in the offing?

Son Heung-min

Spurs’ top Korean prospect is expected to welcome the newly rebuilt White Hart Lane as he surely would be signing with Spurs by the end of the season. Son has made 30 league appearances for Spurs, scoring 12 goals. He has been a vital cog in the Spurs machine, being considered for the EPL Best Player for the month of March. Son hasn’t scored in his two appearances for South Korea so far in 2018, but he’s a sure lock for one of the roster spots for Asia’s Red Devils.