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Thursday, August 11, 2011

One Out, Two In

There's been some significant personnel moves made by the club in the past couple of days, so lets begin with the departure of a true fan favourite, before assessing the impact our two new arrivals could have in the second half of the season.
The women are rough
in Osaka.

The Little Wizard Departs
In a move that took many Tokyo supporters by surprise, the club announced on Tuesday that our richly talented winger Yohei Otake would go on loan to J1 Cerezo Osaka until the end of January next year.

Despite being a darling of the Aji Sta faithful since making his debut in 2008, The Little Wizard had made just two starts this year, and should get a chance to play more regularly for the Kansai side as a replacement for Takashi Inui, who departed for Germany earlier this month - in fact Cerezo have even given Otake the number 7 shirt, Inui's old number.

For whatever reason Otake was never able to convince Mr. Okuma that he could be relied on, and appeared to be viewed as a 'luxury' player by the manager, someone who could open a can of beans with his left foot but was a liability going the other way.

While we don't know how long a deal had been in the works, if a permanent move was discussed, or if other clubs had enquired about signing him (though there were rumours bouncing around in the past couple of months), the club must've been shopping him around and you have to wonder, if he's a success in Osaka, whether we'll see him in a Tokyo shirt again: I would guess not as long as Okuma is in charge.

Farewell and good luck, Little Wizard.

Two New Faces
Get me out of Kofu!!!
As it happened, the club had a like-for-like replacement for Otake lined up, in the shape of Kofu winger Genki Nagasato (right). The fourth-highest scorer in J2 with 15 goals for Fukuoka in 2010, including both goals in their 2-0 win that sealed promotion in Matchday 36, Nagasato joined Kofu this season and started the first 11 games of the year before seemingly falling out of favour, opening the door for a move back to J2.

I suppose you could argue that Nagasato could end up playing just as little as Otake did, but with Naohiro Ishikawa and Tatsuya Suzuki under seemingly permanent injury clouds, he could get a chance off the bench and play a part, especially in September and October, when we'll play three games in a week on three ocassions.

That didn't last long, did it?
Didn't like the tzatziki?
While the addition of Nagasato just adds to the ranks of our wideboys, the other new face fills a definite need up front, and was arguably more surprising than the departure of Otake: ex-Yokohama striker Daisuke Sakata (left).

After 10 years with Marinos, Sakata joined Greek Super League club Aris Thessaloniki in February and made six league appearances as well as two in the Europa League, but he's decided to return home and has become the latest player to sign on for the 'Let's get FC Tokyo back into J1' campaign.

The scorer of 46 J1 goals, Sakata offers an option, initially off the bench, to ease Roberto Cesar's workload, and frees Big Bear up to play The Salad and Lucas together in a 4-4-2 that we could potentially use in home games. As we wait and wait for Sota Hirayama and/or Daiki Takamatsu to return, Sakata becomes our third striker and should definitely get a chance to stake a claim.

Do These Moves Help Us?
In a nutshell: Yes. While we're all gutted to see Otake go, Nagasato should be motivated and is a proven performer at this level, but as promising as he is its the addition of Sakata that is the most interesting and should have the most impact, as if he's paired with Lucas it should allow the big fella to play closer to goal, with the speedy Sakata using his pace to keep opposing defences on their toes.

Finally, you have to again give credit to the front office for their commitment to our promotion push. They earned my praise for getting Lucas back, and again they've pushed the boat out (as Sakata will be on decent wages) to fill a need, as the second half of the season begins on Saturday. This squad should now see us through to the end of the season, and has enough depth (as we already know) and variety to fill Tokyo supporters with confidence that we'll be able to finish in the top three, which is, after all, all we need to do.


  1. Nagasato is going in under the cover of Green:)!! Fifth columnist!! Look out for own goals, shin rollers inexplicably over the bar from 3 yards out ,fouls on his own players and a smirk when he does all of the above.

  2. Aye not sure about this Nagasato fella, I mean if you can't get a game for Kofu? A big welcome to Sakata though, a proper J1 dude.

    I am prepared to wager the wee man Otake will be a bit hit at the Cherries, sad that we are letting go probably the most talented player in the squad.