The Best Japanese Players in Premier League History – Ranked and Recognized

The Best Japanese Players in Premier League History – Ranked and Recognized

The Premier League is one of the most prestigious football leagues in the world, known for attracting top talent from around the globe. Over the years, several Japanese players have made a mark in the league, showcasing their skills and contributing to the success of their respective teams. Some of them are Kazuyuki Toda,  Ryo Miyaichi and Gamba Osaka. Let’s take a look at some of the best Japanese players in Champions league and Premier League history, ranked and recognized for their achievements. We’ll find out the first Japanese player as well as the first Asian to become the first gunner part of the North London club Arsenal. 

Who are the top Japanese players in the Premier League?

When it comes to the top Japanese players in the Premier League, there are a few names that stand out. One such player is Shinji Kagawa. Kagawa made a name for himself during his time at Manchester United, where he showcased his excellent technical skills and ability to score crucial goals. Another notable Japanese player in the Premier League is Shinji Okazaki.

Okazaki had a successful spell with Leicester City, contributing significantly to the team’s remarkable Premier League title win in the 2015-2016 season. Similarly, Hidetoshi Nakata is another Japanese player who had a successful career in the Premier League. Nakata played for clubs like Bolton Wanderers and Fulham, leaving a lasting impact with his midfield prowess and ability to control the game.

Which Japanese players have scored the most Premier League goals?

When it comes to scoring goals in the Premier League, Shinji Kagawa once again takes the spotlight. Known for his attacking prowess, Kagawa netted multiple goals during his time at Manchester United, establishing himself as one of the top goal-scoring Japanese players in the league. Takumi Minamino is another Japanese player who has made a significant impact in terms of goals.

Currently playing for Liverpool, Minamino has shown his goal-scoring abilities and has already made a mark for himself in the Premier League. Maya Yoshida, a Japanese defender, has also managed to score a decent number of goals in the Premier League. Yoshida’s aerial presence and ability to contribute offensively make him a threat in set-piece situations, resulting in crucial goals for his teams.

Which Japanese players have played for Manchester United?

Manchester United, one of the most successful clubs in English football, has seen the presence of Japanese players in their squad. Shinji Kagawa is perhaps the most well-known Japanese player to have donned the famous red jersey of Manchester United. Kagawa’s time at Old Trafford was filled with exciting performances and he played a crucial role in the team’s title-winning campaign. Another Japanese player who had a spell at Manchester United is Shinji Okazaki.

Although his time at the club was relatively brief, Okazaki’s contribution to Leicester City’s historic Premier League title win cannot be overlooked. Hidetoshi Nakata, known for his versatility in midfield, also had a short stint at Manchester United during his career in the Premier League. While he may not have achieved the same level of success as Kagawa or Okazaki, Nakata’s time at the club showcased his talent and ability to adapt to different playing styles.

Are there any Japanese players currently playing in the Premier League?

Currently, there are a few Japanese players who are plying their trade in the Premier League. Takumi Minamino, after his move from Red Bull Salzburg to Liverpool, is one Japanese player who has made a name for himself in the league. Minamino’s technical skills and work rate have made him a valuable asset for Jurgen Klopp’s side. 

Another Japanese player currently featuring in the Premier League is Maya Yoshida. Yoshida joined Southampton in 2012 and has been a consistent performer for the club, showcasing his defensive abilities and leadership qualities. Shinji Okazaki, although not currently playing in the Premier League, had a successful stint with Leicester City before his departure. Okazaki’s relentless work rate and goal-scoring abilities made him a fan favorite during his time at the club.

What are some notable achievements of Japanese players in the Premier League?

Japanese players in the Premier League have managed to achieve notable milestones and accolades throughout the years. Shinji Kagawa’s Premier League title win with Manchester United in the 2012-2013 season is undoubtedly one of the standout achievements. Kagawa’s performances played a vital role in helping United secure the league title. 

Similarly, Shinji Okazaki’s Premier League title win with Leicester City in the 2015-2016 season is considered one of the greatest underdog stories in football history. Okazaki’s contributions and goals were crucial to Leicester City’s unprecedented success. Hidetoshi Nakata, although not winning the Premier League, had a successful career in the league, showcasing his skills and proving himself as one of the best Japanese players to have played in England.

Top 5 Premier League Japanese Players

You’re probably familiar with the Premier League’s English superstars, but what about its top Japanese players? The Premier League, known for its global appeal, has been home to some exceptional talent from the Land of the Rising Sun. From midfield maestros to reliable defenders and prolific strikers, Japanese players have made significant contributions to the Premier League over the years. In this article, we’re going to count down the top five Japanese players who’ve graced the English top-flight. We’ll be looking at Junichi Inamoto, Hidetoshi Nakata, Shinji Kagawa, Maya Yoshida, and Shinji Okazaki. Each player has left an indelible mark on the league in their own unique way.

So, let’s dive in and appreciate the skill, tenacity, and flair these players brought to the beautiful game.

5. Junichi Inamoto

Despite his initial glowing reception at Fulham, Inamoto’s star dimmed after a harsh injury and he was eventually let go, moving to West Brom where he struggled to make a mark under the indifferent gaze of Bryan Robson. You’ll remember him as a no-nonsense midfielder, a man who had a knack for scoring stunners. He swiftly earned a spot in the hearts of Fulham supporters, even winning the Intertoto Cup during his two-year stay at Craven Cottage. However, his time at Fulham was cut short due to injury.

The club, worried about his fitness, chose not to re-sign him. That’s when West Brom, led by Gary Megson, stepped in. Megson was a fan, but his sacking not long after Inamoto’s arrival changed everything. With the arrival of Bryan Robson, Inamoto found himself sidelined. He was used sparingly, and it’s no exaggeration to say he struggled. His time at West Brom wasn’t what he, or his fans, had hoped. It’s a shame, really. Inamoto had talent and potential, but sometimes, that’s just the way the ball rolls.

4. Hidetoshi Nakata

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Though his stint with Bolton was brief, Nakata’s influence on the pitch was undeniably impressive, securing the team’s solid eighth-place finish. His play was more than just about scoring goals or making assists. Nakata brought a level of sophistication to the game, an understanding of the pitch that could only be acquired from years of experience. It’s a shame that we never got to see the full extent of his abilities. Nakata was instrumental to Bolton’s success during the 2005/06 campaign. His leadership, both on and off the pitch, was invaluable.

He was a player that the team could rally around, and his influence was felt throughout the season. His touches of brilliance were just enough to offer a glimpse of his prodigious talents. You must remember, Nakata didn’t just play the game, he embodied it. His passion, drive, and unyielding commitment to the sport were truly commendable. His contributions to football, particularly at Bolton, are something that should be remembered and admired. Nakata wasn’t just an amazing player, he was a beacon of what Asian players could achieve in the Premier League.

3. Shinji Kagawa

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Kagawa’s journey to Manchester United had seen him hailed as one of Europe’s finest midfielders, but his departure painted a very different picture. It’s remarkable how his once soaring reputation took a hit during his stint at Old Trafford. His move to Manchester United was major news, given they had shelled out a hefty £17m to bring him over from Borussia Dortmund. Yet, you might say United’s investment didn’t exactly pay off. Despite Kagawa’s promising start, his performances for the Red Devils didn’t live up to the lofty expectations.

Sure, he did manage to net six goals and contributed eight assists in his 38 top-flight appearances for the club. And yes, he even clinched a Premier League winner’s medal. But when you consider Dortmund got him back for a mere £6.5m in 2014, just two years after his arrival in England, it’s clear something had changed. Don’t get it twisted, Kagawa’s time at United wasn’t a total disaster. But it’s fair to say that his star shone a little less brightly on the English stage. Despite this, he remains one of the finest Japanese players to have graced the Premier League.

2. Maya Yoshida

You’ve got to hand it to Maya Yoshida, he’s been an absolute rock for Southampton over the last eight years. His unwavering performances and tireless determination have been worth every penny of the £3m the club spent to bring him to the south coast. It’s not often you find such a gem in the footballing world, but Yoshida has proven himself to be just that. As his eighth season with the Saints rolls on, you can’t help but admire the way he’s risen to the challenges. He’s taken every match in stride, showing his worth time and again.

But now, he’s facing what could arguably be his toughest challenge yet. With Southampton teetering on the brink of relegation from the Premier League, Yoshida’s displays are going to be more crucial than ever. So, as the season moves forward, expect to see Yoshida at his best. He’s proven himself in the past, and there’s no doubt he’ll do it again. Relentless, consistent, and driven – that’s Maya Yoshida for you. A true embodiment of the grit and determination it takes to make it in the Premier League.

1. Shinji Okazaki


Just imagine the thrill of seeing Shinji Okazaki on the pitch, his passion and commitment shining through every move he makes, his infectious smile lighting up the stadium even on the dreariest of days. His four-season stint with Leicester City was nothing short of remarkable, with the highlight undoubtedly being his debut season. That’s when the Foxes defied every expectation, every prediction, to clinch their first ever English league title. Okazaki wasn’t the leading scorer, netting just 14 goals in his 114 Premier League appearances.

But scoring isn’t everything in football, is it? You learned to appreciate his tireless work-rate, his ability to link up play, his clever runs that often opened up spaces for his teammates. He was the perfect partner for Jamie Vardy, helping fuel Leicester’s formidable attack. So, while his goal tally might not be impressive on paper, his influence on the pitch was undeniable. His contribution to Leicester City’s historic title-winning campaign is a testament to that. So, here’s to Shinji Okazaki, a player whose impact can’t be measured solely by the number of goals he scored.

Conclusion of the Best Premier League Japanese Players

You’ve journeyed through the top 5 Premier League Japanese players. From Inamoto’s resilience, Nakata’s mastery, Kagawa’s prowess, Yoshida’s solidity, to Okazaki’s brilliance, you’ve seen it all. They’ve shown that the Land of the Rising Sun can produce top-notch football talent. So, keep your eyes peeled for the next wave of Japanese stars lighting up the Premier League!

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