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Mining the Premiership bench for Asian Talent

In doing some research on the youngster who most intrigues me I have found that the English leagues have looked to Asia and been excited, and then do to immigration rulings been unable to bring these signed players over to the Premiership. Link

Seriously, there is UNTAPPED Premiership level talent from Asia.

Sure, there's Nakamura (yes Celtic and Rangers count as Premiership level talent), and Ji-Sung Park, but the majority of the talents brought over have been Premiership benchies or loaners to lower leagues. This is exactly the type of talent that belongs in MLS.

Who are these players?

Seol Ki-Hyeon - Occasional starter for Fulham, he has over 100 appearances in the FA, and has 18 goals for South Korea in international player as a winger and striker

Sun Jihai - Right back with 130 appearances with Manchester City but now down at Sheffield. The 30 year old has 66 appearances with China.

Dong Fangzhuo - Only 23 he never really got playing time with Manchester United, went on loan to Royal Antwerp where he scored in every other match basically. He has returned to China now. He did score in the Olympics for China.

Nashat Akram - This 24 year old Iraqi midfielder captured the eye of Manchester City when he Captained the Iraqi Olympic team to their 4th place finish at the 2004 Olympics. He was also second for the Asian Footballer of the year in 2007 due to his excellent work leading the national team to winning the Asian Cup.

Ali al-Habsi - Is a 26 year old Omani Keeper who is getting time with the Wanderers in England. He was the starter for Oman in their 2007 Asia Cup competition. He has been linked in the past to transferring away from Bolton as he hasn't been playing much.

From the original linked article at al-Jazeera

World Soccer magazine editor Gavin Hamilton, believes Asian players are capable of making it in Europe but are hampered by the poor reputation of their national teams and players' difficulties adjusting to life on and off the field.

However, he said Japan's Shunsuke Nakamura at Celtic and Manchester United's Park were helping to break the stereotype of the failing Asian player.

"They are making a breakthrough but it doesn't help when Asian teams get hammered at World Cups," Hamilton said.' "It's the only time the rest of the world sees Asian football. Commercially, clubs are not making much money from Asian players and there are work permit problems. That's how they're being judged."

I say that if the English don't want them, we can take them. These aren't DP level talents, but they are certainly players capable of contributing at the MLS level (note their successes when playing outside of the Premiership). With Sounders FC's interest in Asian players and their desire to be an internationally recognizable brand of soccer look for a few talents like this to be on the club come 2009.

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