The biggest question this off-season will be whether wonder-kid Kensuke Nagai is going to sign for his hometown club having graduated from Fukuoka University where his performances saw him get called up for the Japanese National Team.
There is a lot of speculation about where he might be going to now, with the main contenders being mentioned seeming to be Nagoya Grampus, Urawa Reds, Vissel Kobe or Avispa Fukuoka.
In the last game of the season a new banner had appeared at the back of the stadium with some fans already hopeful that a deal has been done.
I think that Avispa is the best destination for him, even if I try to be unbiased.
If he comes back to Avispa (he played for us as a development player) he will almost certainly be the first choice striker and be someone the team is built around. The supporters will give him plenty of chances as a local boy, and the style of play in Fukuoka where the midfield is bringing the ball to the edge of the box but needing a cutting edge seems like a perfect situation for him.
The Contenders for his signature.
Nagoya Grampus The League Champions. He would be in with a chance of winning lots of games, and be playing with some very talented players, but would be doing most of that playing on the training field rather than in matches. Likely to be mainly used as a substitute if he goes there.
Urawa Reds More likely to start games than at Nagoya, but would probably still start the season on the bench. A lot of pressure and may not be given a lot of time to settle by the supporters.
Vissel Kobe He has been on their books as a development player this season, but not played many games. They avoided relegation, but are they going to be any better than Fukuoka next season?
Avispa Fukuoka His hometown club, and the club where he started his career. Already known and popular with the fans who will really want him to succeed. A club who need a striker to build the team around, and would be 1st choice striker every game. Presumably has a home, friends and family in the area.
When the club released Jumbo I thought it meant we must already have a replacement lined up, with Nagai being the most likely candidate after he was at the game against Consadole, but he is a different type of striker.
More similar in style to Yutaka he is smaller, but still good in the air with quick feet and very good movement.. He is good with both feet, and can run at players in a very direct and effective style. Basically exactly the player we need!
Beating 2 players and delivering a great ball for Jumbo last time he played for us.
Beats 3 players and finishes to score the winning goal against Iran in the Asian games.