Football is one of the most popular sports in Asia, but Asian players have begun to make their presence felt on the European landscape only recently.
The rapid commercialisation of the game has seen the competitiveness of various Asian leagues improve by leaps and bounds due to the arrival of talented players from Europe and South America.
That, along with the relaxation in work permit / visa norms, has seen a rapid influx of talented Asian players in the European football scene.
Most valuable Asian XI at the moment:
At the turn of the century, only a handful of Asian players were known outside the continent.
However, two decades later, a lot of Asian players are plying their trades in lucrative European leagues, with some of them being key players for their respective clubs.
In this regard, let's have a look at the most valuable Asian XI at the moment. A 4-2-3-1 formation has been considered for the hypothetical team.
# Goalkeeper - Mathew Ryan (Australia) - €8 million
Though Mathew Ryan is not an 'Asian' player in the strictest sense of the term, he makes the team because Australia have been a part of the Asian Football Confederation since 2006.
The 28-year-old Australian custodian, who plays for Premier League club Arsenal, first arrived in the competition in the summer of 2017 with Brighton & Hove Albion.
After making over 123 appearances in all competitions for the club, Arsenal came calling for his services, and Ryan joined the Gunners on a season-long loan deal till the end of the ongoing campaign.
In his only competitive outing for his new club, Ryan failed to keep a clean sheet, as Arsenal lost 1-0 to Aston Villa in a Premier League game.
# Centre-back - Maya Yoshida (Japan) - €3.8 million
Maya Yoshida made close to 200 appearances during an eight-year stint at English club Southampton.
The 28-year-old Japan international, who arrived at Sampdoria in January 2020, albeit on a loan deal, has impressed in his new surroundings.
Yoshida has already made 36 appearances in all competitions for the Serie A club in just over a year. Recently, the centre-back made news by donating personal protective gear to Genoa hospitals and Sampdoria employees after the COVID-19 outbreak.
# Centre-back - Takehiro Tomiyasu (Japan) - €18 million
Takehiro Tomiyasu is the most valuable Asian defender in the game at the moment.
The 22-year-old centre-back arrived at Italian club Bologna from Belgian Pro League side Sint-Truiden last season.
Tomiyasu has made six goal contributions (three goals and as many assists) in various competitions for the Italian club in over 50 appearances.
The subject of interest of a bevy of top clubs like AC Milan and Leicester City, Tomiyasu remains a Bologna player.
# Right-back - Hiroki Sakai (Japan) - €5.5 million
After making his European top-flight debut with Hannover in 2012-13, Hiroki Sakai arrived at Marseille four seasons later and has stayed there since then.
The 30-year-old Japanese centre-back has appeared in nearly 180 games in all competitions for OM during this period, scoring twice and providing 12 assists.
Sakai recently found himself in the eye of a storm after accusing Neymar of racial abuse during a Ligue 1 game last year.
# Left-back - Milad Mohammadi (Iran) - €2.8 million
Milad Mohammadi joined Belgian club Gent last summer after a four-season stint at Akhmat Grozny in Russia.
The 27-year-old Iranian left-back has impressed at his new surroundings, making over 50 appearances in all competitions in less than two seasons.
Mohammadi has also made 36 appearances for Iran. He played two games in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.