Sunday, June 14, 2009
Top 10 Japanese Talents
With Japanese football improving constantly, I have noticed a couple of young stars that could compose the team of the future. Here is my take on the top 10 Japanese players (in the J-League) that will be stars in the future (or already).
10. Gotoku Sakai | Albirex Niigata | Defender | Age: 18
This full-back was able to keep Mu Kanazaki in quiet during Albirex Niigata's match against Oita Trinita. His marking is impeccible and his speed makes him one of the more promising backs coming out of Japan.
9. Takumi Miyayoshi | Kyoto Sanga Purple | Forward | Age: 16
The youngest player in the J-League right now. He has shined for Japan on an international level for the U-17 national team. He made a pair of appearances last year and will be looking to establish himself in the coming years. He is one to watch out for next year.
8. Yoichiro Kakitani | Cerezo Osaka | Forward | Age: 19
Once a big star in Japan, he has slowly crept back into the shroud of J2. The former AFC Youth Championship MVP is no longer hounded by the media anymore. This does not mean that he has gotten worse. Recently scoring a brace for Cerezo Osaka he has quietly emerged once again. If Cerezo fail to be promoted and Inui and Kagawa leave, then he will definitely be a shoe in next season.
7. Takashi Usami | Gamba Osaka | Forward | Age: 17
Made both his AFC Champions League and J-League debut this season. He scored in his debut against F.C. Seoul and started against last season's champions Kashima Antlers. He may be small in stature, but just like Messi he is quick which can be attributed to his low center of gravity. His goal against F.C. Seoul is a testament to his finishing and he finally got a taste of the league.
6. Yuya Osako | Kashima Antlers | Forward | Age: 18
Fresh out of high school Osako has shown that he can compete with in the highest level of football in Japan. I admit that I was skeptical when the Japanese media labeled him as a "High School Superstar" even with his record-breaking scoring in the National High School tournament. But he has proved me wrong with his first goal in the J-League and 2 goals in the AFC Champions League. He has very good footwork and speed. His current manager, Oliveira, claims that he will be in the squad for South Africa 2010, but only time will tell.
5. Genki Haraguchi | Urawa Reds | Forward | Age: 18
A relative unknown before this season, he has emerged as a regular for Urawa Reds. He has already scored his first league goal and scored an impressive finish against Omiya Ardija in the Nabisco Cup. He has really good vision and footwork, not to mention his finishing which is of the highest order. Has been recently overshadowed by teammate Naoki Yamada.
4. Mu Kanazaki | Oita Trinita | Midfielder | Age: 20
Broke into the scene at the age of 19 last season. He has become a pivotal part of Oita's attack which the dribbling skills to match. This year has not been very good for him, but the injuries have been harsh. He has the ability to hold up the ball and pick good passes. Not to mention a powerful leg. He has extremely good techinical abilities.
3. Naoki Yamada | Urawa Reds | Midfielder | Age: 18
The 4th youngest Japanese international has come along way in the last couple of monthes. Before this year nobody knew about him, but like many others on this list he has broke into the J-League and national team. He has great vision and will continue the line of fine Japanese midfielders. He is similar to Endo, but with more speed and stamina. He has demonstrated his passing abilities, registering an assist in his debut for the national team.
2. Atsuto Uchida | Kashima Antlers | Defender | Age: 21
Already a regular on for both Kashima Antlers and the national team, Uchida has already proven himself on both a country and continental level. He is a complete full-back with a great crossing ability and stamina. He is a regular for the national team and has already been named into the J-League all-star team. A career in Europe beckons.
1. Shinji Kagawa | Cerezo Osaka | Midfielder | Age: 20
The next great Japanese midfielder is this man. From Nakata-> Nakamura->Kagawa. Of all the promising midfielders in Japan he is the cream of the crop. He WILL be more successful than Nakata and Nakamura. He has been invited to have trials in Barcelona and Real Madrid. He is currently 2nd in scoring in J2 and completely dominating opposing teams. He has great vision, but also scoring ability. He is the future of Japanese football and don't be surprised if he joins a big club in the future.