Football Sport

Son Heung-min – the best Asian player ever?

Written by Leanne Lu

It has been an amazing fortnight for Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino, having guided the North London club to a streak of five consecutive wins. The Argentine’s impressive run culminated in Spur’s 2-0 win over his old Barcelona foe, Pep Guardiola, in a mouth-watering clash between the Premier League’s top two teams last weekend.

Tottenham’s win over Manchester City at White Hart Lane saw them create more chances than their opponents while defending with great resilience. The win narrowed the gap between the sides to just one point and poses great significance to the title race.

One of Spur’s top performers is undoubtedly the Korean talent, Son Heung-min, who was almost sold in the summer because of his mediocre performance last season. Luckily, the devastation of missing out on Olympic medal seems to have set a fire in his heart and he returned to England a changed man: confident, resolute and ambitious. His powerful shot in the opening minutes against Man City from the left proved his changed attitude and he duly created a direct assist to Dele Alli in a beautiful team-play while also being involved in the other goal.

Son Heung-min has returned to his best since the season started, scoring five goals in all competitions and contributing two assists. Here is the real Son Heung-min whom business-savvy chairman Daniel Levy was willing to spend £22 million (€30 million) to secure – a transfer fee that made Son the most expensive Asian football player in history. The record had been held since 2001 by Japanese Hidetoshi Nakata, who transferred from Roma to Parma for €25 million.


Son Heung-min fits Pochettino’s philosophy well as the Korean is fast, energetic and can be lethal on the counter-attack. He can play winger, causing all sorts of problems with his brave run and lightning speed. In the absence of injured Harry Kane, Son Heung-min played at No 9, using Tottenham’s relentless press to cause havoc for City’s defenders. The Korean wanted to prove himself in the Lane, as he was labelled a flop last season. Now he has won over the pundits, with Thierry Henry his newest admirer. The former French legend described Son Heung-min as “incredible”, saying the Korean “is showing that he deserves to play in that team”.

A few Chinese players have previously tried to establish themselves in the Premier League, one of the toughest leagues in the world. Park Ji-sung is arguably the most successful Asian player in the league, while Shinji Kagawa, Zheng Zhi and Jihai Sun have all had their share of ups and downs. But Son Heung-min may reach a height that even Park failed to hit: a key player in a championship team. At his peak, Park Ji-sung was still a rotation player in Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United team. But Son Heung-min is young and talented, with his peak yet to come.