Scouting Japan: Part Three – by Jake McGhee
Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo
Nakashima is a 20 year old striker who has enjoyed a rich run of form in this season’s J. League cup, finding the net 4 times and providing an assist in 5 appearances. Nakashima has all the qualities you’d want in a striker, pacey, powerful and direct; standing at 6’2 he acts as a serious aerial threat and a focal point for the majority of Sapporo’s set pieces.
Aside from his goal-scoring Nakashima is a relatively raw and undeveloped player who could seriously benefit to a move to a more minor European league such as the Austrian Bundesliga with Rapid Wien rumoured to be monitoring the Japanese striker.
Nakamura’s profile is incredibly sought after in the modern game, a left footed centre back. At 22 years old now seems to be a pivotal time in his career, returning from a loan spell at JFL outfit Honda FC he will look to kick on and cement a place in the starting 11. A tall and aerially dominant centre half he reads the game well and often finds himself winning his aerial duels, although not the most refined passer of the ball he has shown glimpses of a good ball playing defender. Coming towards the tail end of this season it’s important that he continues to develop and gets a solid run of form in the team which will allow him to look abroad.
Able to operate anywhere down the left flank Taiga Hata is an incredibly dynamic and versatile young player, at only 20 he has enjoyed a good run in Shonan’s team for the past 2 seasons and has acted as a wing-back, traditional full-back and on the left side of midfield. Incredibly speedy and tenacious his pace causes problems for his opposite number as he enjoys facing up his marker and beating them for pace; although this sometimes causes problems due to a relative lack of end product which sometimes leads to play being turned over in the final phase and leaving Shonan susceptible to counter-attacks. Aside from his pace Hata is also able to hold his own defensively, with decent strength for his age and a good understanding of the game he is a reliable asset in this Bellmare outfit.
A general understanding of his playstyle can be gained from these graphics produced by Data Scientist Ryo Nakagawara.
Another left footed centre back, Matsumura is only 18 years old and is yet to get his foot in the door of Bellmare’s first time but has shown glimpses of promise for the national team at youth level. He has featured at both u17 and u18 level for the Samurai Blue, a confident and assured centre back he never seems rushed and plays with an air of calm. Standing at 6 foot he is a physically robust player in terms of the Japanese game and utilises his height in aerial duels, the combination of his height, strength, left-footedness, ball-playing abilities and his calmness are vital ingredients in the ideal modern centre back potion. He is certainly a player to keep an eye on and has been regarded in Japan as being able to play for his national team and make the jump abroad one day.
The youngest player to be featured in this edition of Scouting Japan Kasagi’s age by no means holds him back. Gifted with incredibly quick feet and technicality Kasagi’s close control is amongst the best in the country already, although he still plays for Sanfrecce’s u18’s his ability could easily see him jump into the first team but with Sanfrecce’s form this season he will struggle to get into the starting XI. An astoundingly good dribbler who can operate on the either wing or as a number 10 the 17 year old is one of the hottest prospects in Sanfrecce’s system at the moment with Kasagi looking set to make the step up at some point. So far this season Kasagi has been running the show in the Takamado U18 PL in Japan getting 4 goals and 3 assists in 12 appearances, pulling the strings from the wings and the 10 role Kasagi’s intelligence and creativity mean that all play goes through him.
Higashi is a 22 year old left midfielder who started this season as a crucial part in Sanfrecce’s team, despite now being injured he was a key pawn in Michael Skibbe’s outfit. Despite being a left midfielder by trade Higashi operated in more of a central midfield role this season, allowing him to display his impressive range of passing. An elegant and astute player he seems to be a threat from free kicks and other set pieces, possessing a strong shot and accuracy as seen in this clip on international duty.
Upon return from his injury Higashi can hope to continue his good form, it will be interesting to see if he continues in his central role or is reverted back out wide as his versatility allows for him to be deployed wherever necessary.