FourFourTwo's Asia 50, 2016: Players 10-1
Players 10-6 written by Kenneth Ho
10. Kim Young-gwon
Ever since he broke into the China Super League in 2012, Kim Young-gwon’s reputation has only grown.
Being named Korea Football Association’s male player of the year in 2015
His first season in China was stop-start, but the same cannot be said for the campaigns that followed, as Kim found himself named in the Chinese Super League’s team of the year for three consecutive seasons.
Despite not playing against United Arab Emirates’ Al Ahli in the first leg of the 2015 AFC Champions League final, Kim started in the return leg and helped his side keep a clean sheet.
He was rewarded with the second AFC Champions League medal of his career and his performances resulted in him beating out the esteemed competition of Swansea’s Ki Sung-Yueng and Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min to the Korea Football Association’s male player of the year award.
9. Takashi Usami
Scoring his first goal for the Samurai Blue in March last year in only his second appearance, in a 5-1 victory over Uzbekistan
It hasn’t always been easy being attacking midfielder Takashi Usami. After bursting onto the scene with goal after goal in the J-League as a teenager, a loan move to the Bundesliga with Bayern Munich beckoned.
Despite being just 19 years old, much was expected of Usami, yet he failed to live up to German giants’ extremely lofty expectations, moving back to Japan in 2013.
He then rediscovered his feet back on familiar ground in the J-League, as he led Gamba to promotion in his first season back before helping them to a runner-up finish in the top tier and a Japanese Super Cup triumph in 2015.
Usami was in fine form on the continental front last year too, scoring four goals for the Japanese side as it reached the AFC Champions League semi-finals.