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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The New Boys - Part 1

With all of our offseason business apparently done (no fourth foreigner, right?) and preseason now in full swing, I decided to ask some of my fellow J.League bloggers about some high profile players who have left their former clubs to sign on at FC Tokyo.

Here in Part 1 you'll read some really interesting stuff from Brendan of the terrific Yokohama blog Tricolore Pride on Kazuma Watanabe and Aria Jasuru Hasegawa. It appears we've got two potentially excellent young players on our hands that Yokohama may end up regretting letting go of. My thanks go out to Brendan for giving such detailed answers on very short notice.

In Part 2 coming later this week we'll hear from Nick, the man behind the brilliant Verdy blog Tokyo Nerdy 1969 on Hiroki Kawano, and Barry from the excellent S-Pulse UK Ultras blog on Kosuke Ota, but for now lets get stuck in on Kazuma and Aria.

Kazuma Watanabe & Aria Jasuru Hasegawa
- thanks Brendan from Tricolore Pride
How were their exits received by the supporters/yourselves? Not that bothered to see them go or a bit frustrated at losing two young players?
  We could understand the letting go of Aria because we had plenty of potential players that can work his position but many of us were surprised to see that Watanabe was on the way out. Kazuma is a talented striker and certainly somebody we would want to keep but I guess the club decided that we need more experience over guts in front of goal. Frankly, I'm still puzzled by the decision.

How important were they to the setup last season?
  Not really to be honest. Kazuma was criminally underused/misused and Aria was playing an average of one game every 3 weeks so it's hard to say how important they were to our campaign last season to be honest...
Did Watanabe get too big for his boots after his strong debut season?
  No. I think the manager got too big for his! When you have somebody as capable as that in the squad, you'd be a fool to not make the most of such a player. Unfortunately though, Coach Kimura felt that Oguro was the man for our goals and so he pretty much indefinitely took Kazuma's position as the one-top/lone striker. Kazuma was underused and when he did play, he was tucked behind either Oguro or Ono.

Was the feeling that Aria was never going to make it as a regular in the XI or is the potential there?
  Aria could have made it! Aria is very much an unknown quantity which is obvious when opposing midfielders try to shut him down and have trouble doing so! He's a good, solid player but can be very unpredictable in terms of positioning on and off the ball. In fact, I had a real hard time figuring out whether I actually liked him or not! After time he grew on me though... He was definitely being primed for bigger things which is why many of us were confused that the club decided to sell him!

How greatly (if at all) will they be missed?
  Good question! Aria won't be missed too much due to our extensive midfield and defense but Kazuma may well be depending on whether Ono can step his game up this season or not!
Who do you have that could fill their positions?
  Aria could be easily covered by Kano or Moriya. As for Kazuma, well, strikers are few but everybody's hoping that Marquinhos can bring back the old magic!
How do you feel about Marquinhos at 35 replacing Watanabe?
  Personally quite happy. I was a big fan of his and was really gutted to see him leave us 8 years ago. Marqui has a lot of skill and knows the Japanese game inside out so I'm confident we won't regret him coming back.

Any general comments about the players?
  None other than we all wish them the best and hope that neither of them score against us this season!!

And what we can expect from them at FC Tokyo?
  You will have a good squad member and holding midfielder in Aria, and with Kazuma you'll enjoy watching a ballsy striker that isn't afraid to have a pop on goal whenever the opportunity arises. He has a natural nose for goal and will no doubt be causing us all a lot of bother in the area. The cheeky scamp!
Fantastic stuff and some very candid answers from Brendan there. As the preseason continues it will be very interesting to see how both Watanabe and Aria work their way into Ranko Popovic's system. We are spoilt for choice both up front and in central midfield, but I'm sure both players will get their opportunities considering our cluttered fixture list.

Part 2 on Kawano and Ota will be posted later in the week. Stay tuned!

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