Asian Young Player of the Year 2016: Sardar Azmoun

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Outsideoftheboot.com – ROSTOV, 2016 has been a thrilling year for Iran’s golden boy, Sardar Azmoun. Having made his loan spell permanent with Russian side FC Rostov following off the pitch complications, he embarked on a fairy-tale journey that transmitted to the rest of the side. The side surprised the footballing world, with an incredible title challenge that saw them ultimately finish second, and book a place in Europe’s premier competition, for the first time in their history.

Azmoun’s best performances came towards the tail-end of the 2015-16 Russian Premier League season. The 21-year-old scored six goals in the last six games of the season, propelling his side to the top and holding off pressure for that coveted Champions League spot.

But the year’s fairy-tale was only beginning, as Azmoun and his Rostov side embarked on their European journey, knowing fully-well it wasn’t going to be a simple task. The Russians first faced Belgian giants Anderlecht before squaring up against Dutch side Ajax – both teams who traditionally have found their feet in European competition. But helped by Azmoun’s two goals through the Champions League qualifying rounds, Rostov found themselves in the group stage, rubbing shoulders with the continent’s elite.

Here’s where Azmoun had arguably the most memorable highlight of his year, career and possibly Rostov’s history. The minnows managed to secure three points against German champions Bayern Munich, helped by a goal from Azmoun en route a 3-2 victory. The youngster has also been ever present for his national side, striking four times across seven matches as the Persians look to book their place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, in Azmoun’s adopted home – Russia.

The clinical striker has done well to adapt himself into Europe, having developed his football in his homeland with Sepahan. Relying on his finishing and dependable first touch, the Iranian international has leaped to fame and is enjoying the prime of his career, with 2016 possibly being just a sneak peek of what’s more to come.

Expert Talk | Here’s what Toke Theilade, Editor-in-Chief of Russian Football News told OOTB:

Azmoun is an incredibly exciting young prospect, and after a nice, but somewhat inconsistent last season, he is in the middle of his major breakthrough with crucial goals both domestically and internationally. He is an almost complete striker, but is a somewhat controversial persona, best exemplified with his strange transfer to Rostov, which is still not recognized by his old club Rubin Kazan.


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