FourFourTwo’s Asia 50 Bolters, 2016
Sometimes, you rise and then you fall. But for some, they just keep going higher and higher. That proved to be the case for 12 players in FourFourTwo’s Asia 50 list this year.
Who are they and how high did they climb? Here they are...
Igor Sergeev (Uzbekistan)
Sergeev made the highest leap amongst the top 50 players, having jumped from 48th spot to 11th this year.
The 23-year-old of Russian ethnicity is gradually following in the footsteps of previous Uzbek stars like Maxim Shatsikh and Alexandar Geynrikh, as he takes on the mantle of leading the line for club and country.
Apart from hitting 24 goals to fire Pakhtakor to the Uzbek top-flight title in 2015, the 1.85m powerful forward has also been prolific for the Uzbekistan national team in their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.
Chanathip Songkrasin (Thailand)
Rising star Chanathip made a decent rise of 13 places from 50th to 37th.
Affectionately named as ‘Messi Jay’ due to his diminutive stature and silky close control, the 22-year-old is gradually becoming one of best playmakers in Southeast Asia.
He is at the forefront of Kiatisuk Senamuang’s all-conquering Thailand side as the War Elephants look to navigate through the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
The 1.6m midfielder’s stock is set to rise even higher, should he put in more barnstorming displays to help Thailand retain their Suzuki Cup crown this year.
Abdelkarim Hassan (Qatar)
Abelkarim jumped 21 places from last year’s 47th spot to this year’s 26th. At just 22 years of age, the left-back has already made over 50 appearances for the Qatar senior national team.
The youngster is the epitome of a modern full-back; full of overlapping and and a penchant for long-range shots – just watch this stunning 45-yarder.
The 1.86m defender was one of those that impressed during the AFC U23 championship in January and will surely leave Al-Sadd for greener pastures sooner or later.
Shinji Kagawa (Japan)
After last year’s disappointment, where he placed 44th, Kagawa has moved 17 places to 27th.
The 27-year-old took some time to settle back into life at Dortmund after a disappointing two-year spell at Manchester United, but he has truly flourished this term under coach Thomas Tuchel at the forefront of their attacking pyramid.
Check out this classy nonchalant lobbed finish Kagawa made in a 2-2 draw with Schalke 04 just weeks ago.
Zheng Zhi (China)
Zheng moved 24 spots from last year’s 43rd to this year’s 19th.
Despite being 35 years of age, he has showed no signs of decline by leading Luiz Felipe Scolari’s star-studded Guangzhou Evergrande side to their fifth successive Chinese Super League (CSL) title.
The veteran midfielder has not been scoring as much as he did during his younger days, but he is still a mean machine in the middle of the park with his assertive challenges and passing ability.
Yoshinori Muto (Japan)
The promising Muto jumped 12 spots to reach seventh place this year.
The 1.78m forward has adapted to life in the German Bundesliga with FSV Mainz 05 by scoring seven goals in 19 appearances.
His performances ensured fans did not miss his compatriot Shinji Okazaki – who left for Leicester City last summer. The 23-year-old’s potential has not gone unnoticed, with Manchester United already reportedly interested in securing his services.