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5 players Gamba could sign this winter

Following on from my rant on Twitter the other day about the potential signing of Hayato Nakama from Fagiano Okayama (note to those who missed it, it’s nothing personal against the player who I think has had a brilliant season, more that like Ide, Tanaka, Concha, Susaeta and Takagi before him there’s no place for him to play), I decided to outline where I think the current Gamba squad can be improved and which players would be the best fit.

I am working on the understanding that next year will see a continuation of 3-5-2 with Higashiguchi in goal, a back three of Kim, Miura and Suganuma / Takao (this 3rd centre-back spot needs upgrading), Fujiharu and Onose as wing-backs with Fukuda and Kurokawa providing back-up (please no more wing backs unless someone leaves). A midfield triangle with Yajima at the base and Ideguchi and Kurata more advanced (Endo will probably see much less action next year), so we could potentially bring in someone to play just in front of the back 3. Finally Usami and Ademilson (if he stays) will play up front with Ichimi and Goya back from loan to give support, Patric and or Watanabe may leave for fresh pastures therefore possibly allowing for a new signing here.

With that in mind, here are my 5 suggestions;

#1 Yoshinori Suzuki – 27 (years old) – Oita Trinita – Centre-back – Captain and an ever present for Oita for the past 4 seasons. He has been a rock and source of dependability for the men from Kyushu as they’ve soared to 7th in J1 this season. Ideally I like to see Gamba build from within and just add the odd signing from smaller clubs, and with the greatest of respect to Oita, Suzuki fits the bill exactly. At 184cm he has the size to form a formidable defensive line along with Genta Miura and Kim Young-gwon. If we are looking for someone with a bit more pace at the back then see option #3.

#2 Ryuho Kikuchi – 23 – Renofa Yamaguchi FC – Centre-back – He’s just completed his first season of senior football following his graduation from Osaka University of Health and Sports Sciences (the same one as Hiroki Fujiharu) and quickly established himself as a key part of Yamaguchi’s defence. Renofa did concede 70 times in 42 games, but Kikuchi himself largely steered clear of the blame and managed 3 goals and 1 assist in 35 J2 games. I’d see the 188cm centre-half as a back-up initially, similar to what Yokohama F.Marinos are doing with Makito Ito, before hopefully nailing down a starting spot in the future.

#3 Tomoki Iwata – 22 – Oita Trinita – Centre-back / right-back – This is very much an either / or with option #1, Iwata’s club captain Suzuki. I’ve put Iwata lower on the list as owing to his status as a Japanese international following his call up to this year’s Copa America squad and his ongoing involvement with the Japanese Olympic team, I feel he’d be harder to prize away from Oita and may have better options elsewhere. At 178cm he’s quite small for an elite centre-back, but he does play on the right-side of a back 3 in a system very similar to Gamba. In addition he’s more pacy than Suzuki and can also play right-back if required.

#4 Ryota Nagaki – 31 – Kashima Antlers – Central-midfield / right-back – Before you start batting this one down, please hear me out. Nagaki may have played 46 games in all competitions for a strong Kashima side this year, so he could be seen as out of Gamba’s reach, but, he was reportedly on his way out of the club last winter as part of the deal that took Ryohei Shirasaki to Ibaraki. He’s also spent time at right full-back when Leo Silva and Kento Misao were fully fit and with the up-and-coming Shintaro Nago commanding more game time in the Antlers midfield, there is a slim chance Gamba could lure him to Osaka to provide a much needed shield in front of the back 3. Hidemasa Morita of Kawasaki would also fit this mould for me, but even if he’s behind Oshima and Tanaka at Frontale, I’m not sure we could get him (see Tatsuki Nara last year).

#5 Leonardo – 22 – Albirex Niigata – Centre-forward – Scored so many goals for Albirex in J2 this year that even Olunga’s 50 goals on the final day couldn’t overtake him. In all seriousness he netted 28 and assisted 6 in just 38 games making him one of the hottest properties in Asian football. Ademilson has been linked with Urawa (though the passion and commitment he showed on Saturday would suggest he’s going nowhere), however, if he stays, his partnership with Usami backed up by Goya and Ichimi (two other prolific scorers in J2 in 2019) probably means this deal would be dead in the water. If, on the other hand, Ademilson does become a Judas to the Gamba support and moves to Saitama, Leonardo would be the perfect replacement (Sugimoto in a swap deal would make heads explode). Gamba would be likely to face stiff competition from fellow J1 sides and even teams from China, the Middle East and Europe to land his services, but why not give it a shot?

Anyway, those are my thoughts, please let me know what you think on Twitter.


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