News Brief: FCT in running for Shunsuke Nakamura, Hirayama to start against Hong Kong?

The big news in Japanese football this morning is that Spanish side Espanola intends to loan Japanese NT star Shunsuke Nakamura (31) to a J.League club, but only until the summer in what could be essentially be a 3-month loan worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Transferred last summer to Espanola from Celtic in a major deal that saw Japan's most visible player in Europe step foot onto the continent, Nakamura has been unable to break through with the team after 6 months of league play in part due to a language barrier, inability to get fit, and various injuries. With the World Cup about five months away, Nakamura's main objective is to get back onto the field and prove his worth to Okada. This is especially true as strong “leader”-type players like Kashima's Ogasasawa have begun making appearances on the NT in Nakamura's absence.

According to Sponichi Annex, should this transfer go through Espanola would likely cancel a planned summer tour of Japan that would have netted nearly half a million Euros ($700,000) in revenue. As a result, the team would likely seek to recover some of that lost revenue in what would be a relatively high transfer fee.

Yokohama F. Marinos (the team Nakamura grew up playing with and what was thought to be his destination after Celtic) is in the lead to acquire the left-footed midfielder, but Kashima, Urawa, Gamba Osaka, and FC Tokyo are also named in the press as potential candidates.

Among fans, the general sentiment seems to be negative, with most criticism focusing on Nakamura's fitness and strength especially compared with Kajiyama (maybe I just have blinders on but I think we could do with less Kajiyama, yet I digress) and others in Tokyo's lineup. Another point on which I tend to agree on is that if Tokyo has the money to blow on a 3-month romp with an aging star arguably passing his prime, that money should instead be spent on a striker.

All involved parties apparently hope that the deal will go through in time for Nakamura to take the field on J.League's Opening Day. Yet given that our first match is against Yokohama, it does appear likely that one way or the other Nakamura will step foot on Ajinomoto Stadium's pitch.

In NT news, Sota Hirayama is likely to start for Japan in tonight's match versus Hong Kong. Japan has played 180 scoreless minutes, with Saturday's game against China ending in a shower of boos for the NT. Calls have been growing for Hirayama to start rather than appear as a mid-game substitution, and with Shimizu's Okazaki likely out of the match with a knee injury it appears that #20 may take the field at 7PM.  Meanwhile, former NT coach Philippe Troussier has criticized Hirayama for “trying too hard to control the game,” claiming that “[Hirayama] would be more effective with a simpler way of attacking.” Troussier, who let the NT from 1998 through the '02 World Cup, further stated that Hirayama “…has potential, but isn't at the top level yet.”

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3 thoughts on “News Brief: FCT in running for Shunsuke Nakamura, Hirayama to start against Hong Kong?”

  1. We’d certainly get a few thousand more through the turnstiles if Shunsuke were to come, which in itself would cover part of his salary, but I can’t see him going anywhere other than back to Yokohama. I’m sure they’ve got the dosh to splash if he is indeed going to leave Espanyol.
    On our side of things I agree that whatever money that would go towards acquiring him would be better spent on an upgrade elsewhere, although its hard to see anything happening at this stage with less than a month to go until the season starts. All of the decent Japanese players out there have already moved, and if we were considering getting another Brazilian in I would’ve thought they’d have got him in before pre-season training started.
    Anyway, overall I’m thinking positively (for once, historic moment that should be noted) as our off-season ins and outs have left us with a far better, more well-rounded squad than previous seasons.

    By the way, can we get a small prize to Troussier for Most Obvious Statement of the Year? “Hirayama “…has potential, but isn’t at the top level yet.”” No s#%t, Sherlock.

  2. I agree YNWA. It seems a little far fetched for FCT to get Shunsuke for the starting of the season. I ask myself, and have been asking myself this constantly, is why on earth was he moved to Espanyol in the first place? Dan and I talked about it a few times last year. He’s definitely NOT a player past his prime. He needs a better environment to get his feet on the pitch. It would have looked better for him, personally and professionally, to get his butt back home and get his shiz together for the National Team. Troussier makes a valid point. Watching Hirayama hog the ball and be a selfish player during more than a few games last season ikred me. Especially with Ishikawa injured, Hirayama tried to take everything in his own hands. Tsk tsk tsk. So it doesn’t surprise me when people see that in Hirayama. FCT makes weird moves generally (I still haven’t gotten over Cabore…sniff) we’ll see what Ricardhino has to offer as well as our new Korean friend Kim Young-Gwon. Can’t f’ing wait!

  3. Yup, would be shocked if we made a move for Nakamura. It makes no sense to spend so much on wages for a player who, if played in his favourite position, would be in direct competition with Ishikawa (though I guess he could also do a job behind the strikers). And Shunsuke also doesn’t fit the profile of players that Jofuku likes to bring in (i.e. young and hungry).

    On that note, Goldenface, apologies but… I was pleased to see Cabore moved on (!). His scoring record was pretty dire (though perhaps due to playing/being played so deep, always receiving the ball with his back to goal and a mass of defenders to play through). And he just didn’t seem interested for much of last season.

    Ricardinho’s an interesting one, though. At 21, he’s at the opposite end of his career to Cabore and should arrive with everything to prove. Whether he actually works out or not, I think Jofuku’s on the right track here. We don’t need journeymen, who come with a risk of dodgy attitudes and expectations, but younger players who’ll work hard to establish themselves and who will be more willing to fit themselves into whichever system we use.

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