According to statistics, there are 41 foreign players in V. League 2021, 50 percent Brazilian forwards.
Here are the five most prominent foreign players to watch out for this season.
Kim Dong-su (Hoang Anh Gia Lai)
Kim Dong-su (R) warms up before the V. League game between Hoang Anh Gia Lai and Saigon FC on Jan. 17, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.
The South Korean defender was scouted by Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL)’s new coach, Thai football legend Kiatisuk Senamuang, who signed on to manage the club in November last year. He is a product of renowned German club Hamburger SV. The 26-year-old, with a height of 1.88 meters, can play at center-back or as defensive midfielder.
After parting with Hamburger, he played for Japanese club Omiya Ardija, German side VfB Lubeck and Anyang in his home country South Korea.
Kim is expected to form a solid partnership in HAGL’s defense this season with 31-year-old center-back Damir Memovic.
Daisuke Matsui (Saigon FC)
Daisuke Matsui (L) during a pre-season game for Saigon FC on Jan. 7, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.
The 39-year-old Japanese veteran midfielder Daisuke Matsui will surely bring lots of experience and more options in the midfield to Saigon this season. Matsui started his career in 2000 at Japanese club Kyoto Purple Sanga.
He formerly spent eight years in France, playing for clubs like Le Mans (2004-2008), Saint-Etienne (2008-2009), Grenoble (2009-2011) and Dijon (2011-2012). Since 2018, he has played for Yokohama FC before signing with Saigon.
Matsui played for the Japan national football team from 2003-2011. He had 31 appearances, scored one goal, and participated in FIFA Confederations Cup 2003, Olympic 2004 and World Cup 2010. His last international tournament was Asian Cup 2011, where he lifted the trophy with Japan.
Washington Brandão (HAGL)
Washington Brandão during training with Hoang Anh Gia Lai on Jan. 15, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Duc Dong.
Another new signing of HAGL, Brazilian striker Washington Brandão dos Santos, or simply Washington Brandão, also made the list. Before joining the V. League club, Brandão has enjoyed spells in Brazil, Denmark, Indonesia and Malaysia. His most recent club was Malaysian side Petaling Jaya City, where he netted five goals in 18 appearances.
Brandão is expected to be a worthy replacement for Jamaican striker Chevaughn Walsh, who left the club in the transfer window.
Dário (HCMC FC)
Dário (L) in a training with HCMC FC. Photo courtesy of HCMC FC.
Dário Frederico da Silva, or simply Dário, signed with HCMC in the last days of the transfer window. Although Dário’s main position is on the flanks, his impressive height (1.87 meters) makes him an ideal center forward and attacking midfielder.
The 29-year-old made his name at Brazilian club AA Flamengo, scoring eight goals in 51 appearances. After spells in Portugal, Azerbaijan and South Korea, he moved to Latvian club Riga in 2020 and played in the UEFA Champions League group stage play-off that year.
Lee Nguyen (HCMC FC)
Lee Nguyen in New England Revolution’s jersey. Photo courtesy of New England Revolution.
The most anticipated signing of the season, Vietnamese-American midfielder Lee Nguyen, has finally arrived at HCMC. The club have tried to recruit the 34-year-old since February last year.
Lee Nguyen is no stranger to V. League as he used to play two seasons for HAGL and Becamex Binh Duong. Before that, he had spells in the Netherlands and Denmark. After leaving V. League, he returned to the U.S. and spent eight years playing for clubs in top division Major League Soccer (MLS).
At the age of 34, Lee Nguyen is still on form and is expected to take command of HCMC’s midfield this season.