0208 GMT May 09, 2021
Four Iranians were picked by FOX Sports Asia in the 24-man shortlist for Best Footballer in Asia 2020 award.
Zenit St. Petersburg’s striker Sardar Azmoun and his international teammate Mehdi Taremi made the list, as well as center-back Hossein Kan’anizadegan and his former defensive partner Shoja Khalilzadeh.
An outstanding campaign saw Azmoun celebrate a domestic double with the Russian giant in 2020 while he scored 17 goals to finish topscorer of the 2019-2020 the Russian Premier League (RPL) season.
Taremi, meanwhile, in his debut season in the European football, finished joint topscorer of the Primeira Liga with 18 goals, helping Rio Ave to a Europa League playoffs place before signing for Portuguese champion Porto in August.
The backline duo of Kan’anizadegan and Khalilzadeh produced solid performances all over the season to help the Iranian Reds claim a fourth consecutive Persian Gulf Pro League title and reach a second AFC Champions League (ACL) final in three years.
Khalilzadeh, however, parted ways with Persepolis in October – following the ACL semifinal victory over Saudi club Al Nassr – to join Qatari side Al Rayyan.
Iraqi midfielder Bashar Resan also represents the Iranian Reds in the FOX Sports list, though he also left the club after the 2-1 defeat against South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai on December 19.
Ulsan’s Won Du-jae, Yoon Bit-garam, and Brazilian striker Junior Negrao are among the nominees.
Other high-profile players in race for the top prize are Tottenham Hotspur’s South Korean striker Son Heung-min, Vissel Kobe’s Andres Iniesta, French striker Bafetimbi Gomis, who plays for Al Hilal, and Al Sadd’s Qatari international Akram Afif, who was named the AFC Asian Player of the Year in 2019.