After completing all of the end of season posts at a fairly leisurely pace, I guess it’s time to start with the new season posts. Or perhaps the in-between-old-and-new-season posts, as this will be the one where I talk about people leaving and people joining and probably have a bit of a more general moan about things. So here is our off season transfer activity broken down into a few groups. As usual, I’ve cheekily screen grabbed some photos from the pre-season ceremony video. Some of the photos are awful, but I kind of like them that way. Apologies to Matsunagane in particular.
Kenta Tanno → Iwate Grulla Morioka
Bit sad to see Tanno leave but it makes sense for him. I don’t know if the plan to bring in Kamifukumoto came first or whether it was as a result of Tanno deciding to leave. Didn’t really get many chances for us as Oniki seemed to be set on playing Sung-Ryong whenever humanly possible and you can’t really blame him for that. But I always thought that Tanno did a good job when called on, and he leaves us with an unbeaten record in the games he played for us. Good luck to him at Grulla, who I occasionally watch, so am looking forward to seeing him some time next season.
Shogo Taniguchi → Al Rayyan
I kept saying this transfer wouldn’t happen so look how much I know. For some reason, (presumably money), decided to move to the Qatar league. It’s very easy to moan about players chasing cash and it’s also quite easy to dismiss the Qatar league as just being about money. I probably did exactly that when Olunga moved there a few seasons ago. Was really disappointed to see Taniguchi leave as I thought he had a good season last year. Which I guess is probably another reason he decided to leave. As long as the manager of the international team keeps placing so much importance on players playing overseas, regardless of the standard of the league, I guess this will keep happening. Will definitely be missed, and for me this transfer has left a bit of a bad taste in the mouth. Wish him all the best though.
Zain Issaka → Montedio Yamagata
Left the club but has been absent for the last two seasons anyway on loan to Yokohama FC. Whilst he was with us never quite did enough, (in the one or two chances he had), to show that he could provide back up for Yamane. I thought he did ok on his debut for us against Yokohama FC to show that he had some promise but it seems that Oniki disagreed. And perhaps so did YFC as he’s now been transferred to another J2 club rather than rejoining J1 with YFC after their promotion. Think his attacking style, (he used to be a winger I believe), will do him well at Montedio and hope he has plenty of opportunities to show what he can do. Good luck!
Kei Chinen → Kashima Antlers
This one came out of the blue. Perhaps our most effective striker last season albeit not the most elegant one, he did have a habit of putting away chances more often than anyone else who played up front in the middle. For him to join Kashima is a shock, but perhaps only because I dislike them quite a lot and would imagine that everyone else does too. Similarly to Tanno’s situation, I don’t know if Chinen leaving came before or after we knew Miyashiro was coming back from his loan. Or perhaps the fact that Damiao wasn’t leaving, (probably due to his injury), as some had suspected meant that Chinen found himself in a big group of players who all want to play in the one spot we have up front. I always liked Chinen, plenty of others didn’t so much, but he did have a habit of scoring which is a pretty good habit for a striker to have. I feel sorry for him now having to spend a lot of time with Yuma Suzuki and probably a lot of time in traffic jams in the area surrounding the Kashima stadium. Clearly is going to score against us in our first away game of the season. Good luck to him when he’s not playing us.
Out on loan
Kaito Kamiya → Ventforet Kofu
After a season spent at Fujieda MYFC in J3 where he seemed to slowly drop down the pecking order he’s gone on loan to Emperor’s Cup winners and next ACL campaign team Ventforet Kofu in J2. So it looks like his career is somewhat on the up. Don’t know how much he’ll play for them though. Another player who could give us some depth at the back back doesn’t seem to be fancied by Oniki. Once again I could moan about that on Kamiya’s behalf, but to be honest, we’ve seen so little of him that it’s difficult to make any kind of judgement. Good luck to him in the ACL!
Shuto Tanabe → JEF Utd (extended)
I thought Tanabe, after a loan spell at JEF where he was roundly praised, would probably be coming back to us for this season. Do I need to mention our lack of defenders again? I think he even took part in some of the end of season games we played in Asia. So it was a bit of a surprise to see him go back to JEF again, extending his loan. It’s good to see he’s playing and having an impact though, as this is the only way any of our loan players will get the chance to improve. Good luck to him in 2023 and hope to see him back in 2024.
Koki Harada → Nagano Parciero (extended)
Somewhat irritatingly, considering we sent him out on loan, spent most of the year not even making the bench for Nagano Parciero. Which is exactly what happened to him the previous year at Gainare Tottori. I was pleased to see him start the final three games last year though and hope that can continue in 2023. Clearly if he was with us, he’d be at the back of a long line of midfielders so it makes sense for him to try to get some football elsewhere. I’m not sure if we’ll ever see him back with us. He’s still young, but perhaps the last few years haven’t helped his development much. Good luck for 2023.
Taiyo Igarashi → Renofa Yamaguchi
Classic first season stuff for Igarashi last year. Came out of the youth team with a bit of a buzz and then had zero involvement in first team activities aside from a little ACL cameo and some end of season tour stuff. I guess Oniki likes to have the youngsters, (and new arrivals to some extent), training in the first team in their first season and then send them out for some experience somewhere in the second season. Hopefully at Yamaguchi he’ll get time on the pitch and some goals. Wouldn’t be surprised to see another loan the year after, perhaps following a similar path to Miyashiro. Good luck to him!
Ten Miyagi → V Varen Nagasaki
Something of a surprise to see him drop down to J2 for a loan, but at the same time, think it will do him good. Burst onto the scene with a bang and an amazing goal at Kashima in 2021 but struggled a bit last year, not being able to do the business in the limited opportunities he got when Marcinho wasn’t playing. Sometimes suffered from dribbling till he lost the ball instead of passing it, a bit like Kubo endlessly does. Feel like the step down to J2 to a club with some ambition and hopes of promotion should mean that he can get his mojo back. I think we’ll see him back with us at some stage, but I agree that one step back to make two steps forward is the right thing for him to do right now. Good luck.
Naoto Kamifukumoto GK - in from Kyoto Sanga
Almost ever present in goal for Kyoto last season which when you consider they finished third from bottom might not be too promising. But actually they conceded less goals than we did last year. Not sure what this means for our goal keeping situation in 2023 though. In 2022 Sung-Ryong had a lock on the position and I thought he was one of our best players. He is now 38 though, so perhaps he might be sharing the position a bit more with the slightly younger Kamifukumoto (33). If one of them starts most of the games and the other is always on the bench it seems like a bit of a waste of time as far as I’m concerned, but we do know that Oniki doesn’t really rotate very much. A new keeper wasn’t exactly top of my shopping list before this season so it was a bit of a surprise to see him join, but I think he’s shown that he will be an asset, if he gets the opportunity. Love the fact that he has a three kanji name and also that he’s gone for the squad number 99.
Takuma Ominami DF - in from Kashiwa Reysol
Finally we have signed a defender! Sadly we have also lost one of our best ones, so we’re basically in the same position or a slightly worse position than we were before. Ominami is 1.84m tall right footed defender who nominally is a centre back but can also play right back, (which he did a fair bit for Kashiwa last year I believe). So this is good news as we need cover for Yamane and we need more defenders. He’s also quite young, but has four seasons of playing quite a few games behind him so looks like a good signing. Taking my favourite squad number 3 so maybe he’ll be a future shirt purchase for me. I can’t see him really challenging for Yamane’s spot so I think we’ll be seeing him more at centre back. Where he fits into that pecking order, I’m not so sure.
Toya Myogan MF - in from Riseisha High School
Signed straight from Riseisha High school, lots of people are talking about Myogan. Has quite an unusual and interesting name! An attacking midfielder, will probably be used in the Marcinho position if he gets a chance. There’s a bit of a buzz about him so we can hope that he’ll be our new Mitoma. From the limited stats I can find it seems he played 21 games last year and scored eight times. Of course the J League is a different level, but I’m looking forward to seeing how he does.
Yusuke Segawa FW - in from Shonan Bellmare
Bit of a surprise signing for some. My Bellmare supporting friend said that Segawa was a nice guy but was one of the worst strikers he’d ever seen as he almost never scored for them. Perhaps this is a Bellmare issue though. Featured a lot last year, playing 32 games, scoring three times, assisting once and getting sent off once for a second yellow at the end of the first half. Seems to either play up front or on the left wing, so it seems that we’ve got two new players to play in a position that Oniki rarely rotates. Perhaps we’re not expecting Marcinho to hang around all year.
Shin Yamada FW - in from Toin Yokohama University
Surprisingly featured once last year as a special designated player, used when we were in the depths of our COVID cluster crisis. Played 83 minutes against Cerezo in a cup game that I’m afraid to say I didn’t see at all so can’t comment. Plays up front so is probably behind Damiao, Kobayashi and Miyashiro in the pecking order. Perhaps will get some time in the Levain Cup, but I’m guessing he’ll probably be having a Igarashi type season in 2023. But given that he’s come from University, rather than the youth team or high school, perhaps might get a bit more of a look in.
Back from Loan
Taisei Miyashiro - back from Sagan Tosu
I’m sure most readers will know all about Miyashiro from a few seasons ago or from his Tokushima and Sagan Tosu loan spells. Somewhat weirdly got sent out on loan first to Yamaguchi just when he seemed to be doing a decent job of getting involved for us. The loan spells seem to have done him the world of good though and he comes back with a real claim to get some good match time I think. And it could happen straight away as both Kobayashi and Damiao are starting the season injured. Eight goals and three assists in 22 appearances for Tosu last year is a pretty good rate. I think he’s going to have a good 2023.
Promoted from youth team
Kota Takai DF
Not sure if he should be here as he was kind of with us last year, having a squad number, but wasn’t actually called on apart from a brief ACL cameo and five minutes against PSG. Very tall and apparently still growing! Could be the solution to our centre back problem, but would be surprised to see him involved much this year as he probably needs to develop a bit first. Getting a fair bit of action for the national U20 team though. I wanted to buy his towel last year but they didn’t make one…
Yuto Matsunagane DF
Have seen him play a few times, once online and twice in person. Another three kanji name player! Seems equally at home at left back and centre back, but at 1.79m tall maybe needs a bit more height if he wants to play in the middle. As expected from a product of our youth team, looked comfortable on the ball. Probably won’t be involved much but looking forward to seeing him improve.
Yuto Ozeki MF
The new Oshima… maybe. But a bit taller (1.78m). Have seen him play in the anchor role and a bit further forward in midfield too. Like Matsunagane, seems comfortable on the ball and will maybe use 2023 to bulk up a bit as he still looks like a youth team player, Saying that though, he seemed to be pretty strong and difficult to knock off the ball, so maybe appearances are deceptive.
Overall, it hasn’t been a great off season of transfers I’d say, but mainly that’s due to our continuing complete failure to sign defensive cover with one player only coming in and a major one leaving. I’m a bit worried to be honest. If we get an injury early on in the season we could be in big trouble. I’ve also heard that we are practicing to play three at the back, which from the point of view of having a plan B is good, but seems a bit insane when you consider that we’ve barely got enough centre backs to play with a regular back four. But hell, what do I know? I wouldn’t say we got in any big names really, but I feel like our squad is decent. I suspect that the same players will be playing endlessly though. I’m sorry for my crushing negativity but I don’t have great hopes for 2023. This however is mainly due to my doubts over Oniki. which I’ve endlessly bored on about. We’ll need new ideas in 2023. I’ll be surprised if we will have any though. The extra Levain cup group stage games should mean that more players get involved, but I suspect it will actually mean that the same set of 15 or 16 players will totally run out of energy earlier than they did in 2022. I’d love to be proved wrong, but I’m not going into the upcoming season with any kind of optimism, other than looking to enjoy the away trips. Blimey…