We have highlighted six Japanese Bundesliga players who could make an impact in the coming season.
|Makoto Hasebe.||Photo: Светлана Бекетова/Soccer.ru/CC-by-SA 3.0|
The Bundesliga has always managed to attract talent from all over the world, but in the last decade, there has been an increase of players from the Asian region – and in particular Japan.
As these players have gone on to have successful careers in Germany, they seem to have inspired a growing trend of Japan's best and brightest talents seeking the riches of Germany to make a name for themselves.
With Japan delivering an honorable performance at the 2018 World Cup and the upcoming season only weeks away, we decided to take a brief look at the current crop of Japanese talent in the Bundesliga.
Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), 29 years old
Kagawa is without a doubt the most recognizable name on this list. For years he has been making a name for himself playing in an attacking midfield role, not just in the Bundesliga, but all over the world. He came to Dortmund in 2010 for next to nothing and managed to establish himself as a fan favorite within a short period of time. After a fantastic 2011-12 season, he earned himself a transfer to Manchester United where he ultimately failed to impress. Despite a disappointing stint at United, he returned to Dortmund in 2014 and has been a regular for the side since then.
Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), 34 years old
This man can be considered a Bundesliga veteran at this point, having spent ten years in the league, representing Wolfsburg, FC Nürnberg and Eintracht Frankfurt where he currently resides. As a defensive midfielder, he might not be as glamorous as Shinji Kagawa, but he has shown himself to be solid when called upon in the defensive department, proven by his many years playing at this level.
Genki Haraguchi (Hannover 96), 27 years old
Arriving at Hannover after four years at Hertha Berlin, and a short loan spell at Fortuna Düsseldorf, he'll no doubt be eager to prove himself. Haraguchi played a vital role in helping Düsseldorf gain promotion and will be expected to start the season as the starting left winger for his new club. A position that he might face competition at, maybe even from fellow countryman Takuma Asano.
Takuma Asano (Hannover 96, on loan from Arsenal), 23 years old
After the forward made the big move from Sanfrecce Hiroshima to Arsenal in 2016, he was denied a work permit in England. Since then, Asano went on loan to Stuttgart where he earned himself a loan extension. This year, he has been sent on loan again, but this time at Hannover. The 23-year old is primarily a forward, but has the ability to play on the wing if needed. At this point in his career, it is doubtful that he'll ever make an impact for Arsenal. However, he has shown himself capable of producing golden moments, although inconsistently, which makes it entirely possible that he could enjoy a fruitful career in Germany.
Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), 28 years old
Having spent almost five years in German divisions, he now finds himself at Werder Bremen after joining from FC Köln this summer. Osako was a key player in Japan's squad that positively surprised World Cup enthusiasts this summer, scoring one goal, but more importantly, helped his team reach the round of 16, crushing football experts' predictions regarding the nation. While he has never been a prolific goalscorer, he has always had a positive effect on his team, benefitting them as a targetman who's able to combine well with surrounding players.
Takashi Usami (Fortuna Düsseldorf, on loan from FC Augsburg), 26 years old
Usami first made his mark on the Bundesliga in 2011 when he spent a year on loan at Bayern Munich and the following year with Hoffenheim. He finally got a permanent move to the league when Augsburg came calling in 2016. Never quite managing to become an established part of the team, he was loaned out once again, this time to Fortuna Düsseldorf where he managed to play a key role in getting them promotion. Augsburg brought him back at the end of last season, but he was keen on renewing his loan deal at Düsseldorf and has since convinced Augsburg to respect his wishes.