Middle East Eye – LONDON, Middle East Eye takes a look at some of the stars from the region who had an impact across the world’s leading leagues this year.
From buying controversial clubs to announcing new tournaments and securing prestigious awards, 2020 has been a big year for football in the Middle East and North Africa.
The coronavirus pandemic had a major impact, forcing changes in the way the beautiful game was played the world over. Some players had their progress hindered as a result, but others will bow out of the year with much to look back on and forward to.
Middle East Eye takes a look at 10 footballers from the MENA region who made their mark across the world’s top leagues this year:
Sardar Azmoun (Iran/Zenit St Petersburg)
Iran is no stranger to producing top footballing talents. Former striker and national team captain, Ali Daie, is the all-time leading goalscorer in the history of men’s international football with 109 goals – a record currently being hunted down by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sardar Azmoun, 25, is also breaking records. The forward, who plays for Russian side Zenit St Petersburg, is the youngest Iranian to score in a European Champions League match and holds the record for the most goals scored by an Iranian in a single Champions League season.
In his first two years at Zenit, Azmoun has already won the Russian league title twice, and picked up the Golden Boot after scoring 17 goals in the 2019/20 campaign. He’s been scoring for the Iranian national team too, chipping in with a highly prolific 37 goals in 55 games. Watch out Ali Daie.