It would be fair to say that Arminia Bielefeld would not be looking forward to another season of Bundesliga football next year without Ritsu Doan.
The on-loan Japanese international appeared in all 34 fixtures and scored five goals; perhaps none more important that the one that sealed the DSC's safety this past weekend against Stuttgart.
As enthusiast as the 22-year-old may be about remaining in Germany, it seems very unlikely that the club can afford his purchase clause.
|Ritsu Doan.||Photo: El Loko Foto, CC BY-SA 4.0|
Ritsu Doan's appreciation for the Bundesliga club he spent the season with had long been apparent even before his eminently successful "Rück Runde". Die Arminnen made him feel even more welcome in East Westphalian by acquiring countryman Masaya Okugawa on loan from RB Salzburg during the January transfer window.
The duo gelled almost immediately. Both players had a highly successful second half of the season. In a March fixture against Leverkusen, the pair become the first Japanese Bundesliga duo to both score in a match since 2016. Doan expressed his gratitude in post-match comments after Saturday's game.
"I'm so happy to have helped this team stay in the Bundesliga," he told an interviewer afterward, "They gave me the opportunity to play here. I love this club."
Asked if the tally may have been the most important in his career, Doan answered in the affirmative. He also addressed the supporters whom, with one solitary exception back in late September, he never actually got a chance to meet.
"This goal was for the Arminia fans, not for me," the youngster noted.
Whether or not the 20-times-capped Samurai Blue phenom may actually ever get to meet the Arminia in earnest fans appears to be in doubt.
Highly-regarded DSC sporting director Samir Arabi obviously pulled off a major coup in procuring Doan's services on a season-long loan from PSV Eindhoven. The 42-year-old executive nevertheless remained candid about the prospect of keeping him.
"With loan players, including Ritsu Doan, we have an option to buy," Arabi confirmed in an interview on Sunday, "[Doan's] price is around €5 million. Together with the additional salary, that comprises about 20 to 30 percent of our budget."
Naturally, this does not mean that a loan-extension can be ruled out for either Doan or Okugawa. The situation gets problematic when one considers that both players are due back at different parent clubs. Arabi didn't seem to rule out extensions, but remained vague.
"It will come down to us trying to implement several loan deals," he said, "We will certainly not be in a position to pay large transfer fees for new arrivals."