Tuesday 26 January 2021

2020/2021 Players in and out


The new season is fast approaching and I still haven't really finished the posts about last season so I'd better get a move on. Here are some words about the players that have left us and have joined us, with a photo cheekily nicked from the Frontale Twitter account. I don't really know if Maguinho fits into this post anywhere as he is still our player but has extended his loan spell at Yokohama FC. As there's not a category for that, I'll just mention it here.




26 year old midfielder signed from Matsumoto Yamaga. Quite tall, which will make a change in our midfield. The internet suggests he can play anywhere through the middle from defensive midfield right up to striker. His squad number suggests that he might be doing some time in defence too perhaps. Scored nine goals in 29 games for Yamaga last year which is a pretty impressive haul. Have heard that he’s a bit of a niggly player and likes a foul but doesn’t get many cards. To be honest, we could probably do with someone like that.


Left-footed defensive midfielder signed from Nagoya Grampus. A transfer that has been held up as a bit of a coup in certain places. Played 24 times for them in the league last year and scored once, getting only a couple of yellow cards which is quite encouraging considering his position. Another player who is quite tall so it looks like we’re thinking about getting a bit more physical in midfield with the ACL in mind. Would imagine he will take Morita’s place in the anchor role.

17. KOZUKA Kazuki

Right sided attacking midfielder signed from Oita Trinita. Only played eight times for them last year, scoring once and providing one assist. His absence didn’t seem to be due to injury so make of that what you will. Perhaps he will be another signing like Shimoda was, where we sign a player from a lower finishing team who didn’t really get much playing time at his former club and then is used mainly as a sub for us. Or maybe he’ll make a claim for a starting spot. Interesting yet at the same time somehow absolutely classic Frontale signing.

19. TONO Daiya

A player who we signed last year, but immediately sent out to Avispa Fukuoka on a season long loan and he tore the place up! I think Avispa were quite disappointed to not be able to hold on to him. Only 21 so still young and came to us from Honda FC where he was considered a hot prospect. Scored 11 times in J2 last year for Avispa and got three assists. Pretty small (165cm), so probably would be played more on the wing in our 4-1-2-3 than up front in the middle, but who knows, maybe we might have some tactical flexibility next season. Quite an exciting prospect for us if he gets a chance as he’ll probably give us something different from Kobayashi or Damiao.

20. CHINEN Kei

Chinen needs no introduction to anyone apart from very new fans. He spent last season on loan at Oita where he took part in 29 games and scored three goals. I say took part because most of his appearances seemed to be as a sub. Not sure quite how much experience he will have picked up from a year on the bench at a different club but to be honest, I wasn’t really sure why we loaned him out in the first place either. Used to be very much in Oniki’s plans but drifted out of them quite dramatically. We’ll see if he’s back in them or this will be another season of frustration for him.


Was nominally with us last year but didn’t take part in any games and this will be his rookie season for us. Comes to us from Toin university and is apparently a right footed defensive midfielder. Scored twice in four Emperor’s Cup appearances in the last couple of years, but as the games were first and second round matches mainly against other universities I’m not sure how significant or useful that info is. Perhaps he’ll be the new Morita. Expect to see him at right back soon!

24. MIYAGI Ten

Frontale youth product who we saw play in a cup game at Todoroki a couple of seasons ago. Plays as a striker but to be honest I can’t remember much about the game I saw him play in. The internet tells me he is a left winger/attacker, so the new Manabu perhaps ie. will spend most of the season waiting for an opportunity behind Mitoma and Hasegawa and maybe Hatate in the pecking order. Or perhaps not, maybe he’ll be this year’s Mitoma. Spent last season on loan at Kataller Toyama where he played 20 times and got three goals and five assists which seems a pretty decent first season in professional football.

30. TANABE Shuto

Another defensive signing! Which is very welcome, but maybe he’s going to be this season’s Kamiya, in other words, completely unused. Only 18 years old and a centre back, which let’s be honest is an area we’re very short in. Comes from the same Shizuoka Gakuen school that Oshima and Hasegawa did which has got to be a good sign, hasn’t it?

40. Kyung-Tae LEE

Joined us last year from Fagiano Okayama after Fujishima left us. With very little rotation in between the sticks last year it is unsurprising that he didn’t get a chance. It’s a lazy comparison but the fact that he’s Korean might suggest he is the long term replacement for Sung-Ryong, but the comparison is so lazy that it is based on absolutely nothing other than his nationality. Pretty much the only other thing I can say for sure about him is that he’s a goalkeeper.



MORITA Hidemasa
The first of this current generation of players to fly the nest and try his luck in Europe. Really pleased he’s transferred to a decent enough looking mid-table Portuguese top flight team rather than a Swiss second tier team. Whether he gets much pitch time, we’ll see, but of course we wish him all the best in Portugal and his spot will be a tricky one to fill as he really upped his performances in 2020. Good luck! (Started, scored and got man of the match in his first game in Portugal! Bravo!)

SAITO Manabu
In spite of having reasonable success with us never quite managed live up to the hype as he struggled to get back to his previous form after his serious injury. Was well loved by the supporters and his fellow players and seemed like he was just a great guy. Transferred to Nagoya where he’ll link up with Abe. Sadly, they play in the same position, so perhaps he’s moving from one team packed with left sided attackers to another. Wish him all the best.

Fujishima’s time with us was mainly spent injured. When he did recover he was another victim of the complete lock that Sung-Ryong had on the starting keeper spot. Transferred to Montedio Yamagata mid 2020 season and actually played some games. They have just signed another keeper though so we’ll see what happens. As with many of our players, seemed like a nice guy, so good luck to him!

Can totally understand him leaving as since he transferred from Shonan a few years ago has been something of a bit part player, always ready to step in but never quite getting the chance. Even with 5 subs he was only really playing a few minutes at the end of games at the most. Great set piece taker and feel like we never quite saw the best of him. Had the best player song too, so it’s a shame to see that one go. Good luck to him at Oita!


Going out on loan to the newly promoted Tokushima Vortis for a year. Pleased that it’s a J1 club but not sure quite what happened as he seemed to be in and around the team early last season but then kind of disappeared. Needs more pitch time to show us what he can do and hopefully he can get this at Tokushima. Feel like he’s still one with a future with us and hope he gets games.

Looked like he might have been about to get a chance to play some minutes towards the end of the season but it didn’t happen as Oniki just carried on with the same players. Going on loan for a season to Gainare Tottori, which is a bit of a shock as it’s a big drop to J3, but hopefully he’ll be able to get some pitch time finally and show us what he can do, albeit from quite a distance away.


Never really got much of a chance in 2020 which was a shame so I can totally understand him returning to his parent club in Brazil. Wouldn’t be surprised to see him pop up with another club in the J League and become a regular starter. Though perhaps that will be in post COVID days if they ever materialize. Was hampered by Yamane’s great season but I really felt he offered something different and was great from set pieces so of course wish him well.


Plenty of appearances for Matsumoto Yamaga last season and is now moving on to Jubilo Iwata. Felt like he offered something but was played at right back too much for us and never quite got a fair crack to play in his preferred right wing position. Good luck!

Returned from a disappointing season on loan at Shonan where he hardly got a chance and now permanently transfered to Omiya Ardijia where hopefully he will get more of a chance. Clearly wasn’t fancied by Oniki. Good luck!

William POPP
Got plenty of time on the pitch last year with Fagaino Okayama and has now transferred to Oita Trinita permanently. Always felt like he could be our long term first choice keeper but seems I was wrong. Good luck!


Signed with a bit of a fanfare amid great competition from other clubs. Always seemed like a great ‘mood maker’ but that was the extent of his involvement for us. Perhaps made the bench once if I recall correctly. Went on successive season long loans to Gifu (where he hardy played) and Gamba Osaka U23 (where he played a lot in a quite leaky defence). Delighted I finally got to see him play for Gamba U23 against Kagoshima after going to Gifu and him not being involved. Not so delighted for him that his team conceded 6 goals that day. Now has a permanent move to Mito where hopefully he can finally get his career going properly. Good luck!


Made a few appearances a couple of years ago before being loaned out to V-Varen Nagasaki. Seemed very popular there and was mentioned in a few places as being their player of the season in 2020. Therefore it didn't come as much of a surprise to hear that he has joined them permanently. Good luck to him!



Honestly, there’s not much point me writing much here. A total legend has retired and will now be a FRO, (Frontale Relations Organiser), which I guess is a good way to keep him around the club without him having to commit too much time. His experience and aura will be useful I think. Good luck to him in his retirement and hopefully he will still be able to contribute plenty to the club in his new role.

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