Arsenal and Celtic tapped into the Asian market this summer by signing Japanese internationals Takehiro Tomiyasu and Kyogo Furuhashi respectively.
Sadly, signing Asian players has been subject to a silly myth over the years.
Many fans have a long-held belief that Asian players are only signed for commercial reasons.
Historic cases like Junichi Inamoto to Arsenal or even Dong Fangzhou to Manchester United left fans believing that players from Japan, South Korea and China would be signed, drive shirt sales and then never be utilised.
Of course, there have been successes over the years. Shunsuke Nakamura was a hero at Celtic amd Park Ji-sung was a trusted player under Sir Alex Ferguson.
Yet almost every time a player from Asia heads to Britain, the same line gets rolled out; that the club in question are looking to maximise their growth into a market.
Son enjoys great success in England
One player who really started to dispel this myth in British football is Son Heung-min. Tottenham Hotspur pounced to sign him in 2015, and the move was met with the usual marketing idea.
Son has proven that he is much, much more than a marketing ploy though. He has become one of the Premier League’s top players and one of the most dangerous forwards in Europe.
Finding another Son isn’t easy, but his impact in England – along with Park’s at Manchester United – leaves other Asian players with dreams of stardom at the highest level that maybe hadn’t been offered in the past.
Arsenal strike for Tomiyasu, Celtic land Furuhashi
Two Japanese internationals have come over to Britain this summer.
Celtic landed Kyogo Furuhashi from Vissel Kobe. New boss Ange Postecoglou managed in Japan with Yokohama F. Marinos, and tapped into the market to bring Kyogo to Scotland.
In just nine games for Celtic, Kyogo already has seven goals and one assist.
Yes, Celtic have benefited from Kyogo’s popularity in Japan. They are opening an online Japanese store to cope with the fanfare around him.
But the real reason Kyogo is driving shirt sales at home and in Scotland is because he’s a very good player.
He has given Celtic a major goal threat and has proven that he is more than good enough to play in Scotland and Europe rather than just driving sales.
As for Tomiyasu, he enjoyed a great debut for Arsenal.
Tomiyasu only joined Arsenal on deadline day and immediately helped Arsenal claim their first league clean sheet of the season.
Brilliant in the air, two footed and versatile, Tomiyasu has made a strong start at right back.
Both players are popular in Japan, but that’s the case for many players abroad. Asian players are met with this marking myth far more regularly than players from any other region.
It may take a while for fans to stop thinking that players are solely signed for marketing.
Yet in Tomiyasu and Kyogo, the Japanese stars are quickly proving that they’ve been signed for their ability – anything extra is just a bonus.