Transfer Rumours: Top 7 J. League Footballers Destined for Europe
Japan's J.League is the standard-bearer of elite Asian football.
Not only is it a great league to watch, but there are also some exciting talents coming out of the league. However, it seems only Bundesliga clubs are willing to take a risk on J.League's best.
Borussia Dortmund signed Shinji Kagawa for €350,000 and could potentially sell him for €20 million.
Here are the top seven J.League talents destined for Europe.
7. Hiroki Yamada, Right-Winger, Jubilo Iwata, Age: 23
Hiroki Yamada has excellent technique, and he is great at dinking past opposing defenders, but you know what I love about him?
He's ambidextrous, so he can torment you with right and left feet.
Within the next two years, he should be playing in Europe, but it depends if he is ambitious and willing to take the plunge into the unknown.
The likes of Yasuhito Endō, Kengo Nakamura, Marcus Túlio Tanaka and Seigo Narazaki have decided to stay in Japan, when they're all good enough to play alongside Europe's elite.
Or Yamada could do a Mitsuo Ogasawara, by going overseas, but coming back immediately and saying "never again."
6. Akimi Barada, Centre Midfielder, Kashiwa Reysol, Age: 20
Akimi Barada is all about the team, and if Hajime Hosogai can get a contract with Bayer Leverkusen, there is no doubt that Barada will find himself on the books of a significant European club.
5. Kosuke Yamamoto, Centre Midfielder, Jubilo Iwata, Age: 22
With the exception of several games, Kosuke Yamamoto played the majority of last season on the right wing.
It slightly surprised me that Hitoshi Morishita has played Yamamoto more centrally this season—leading to five goals in nine games.
He is more efficient than Takuya Matsuura, who plays in front of him.
4. Toshiyuki Takagi, Left-Winger, Shimizu S-Pulse, Age: 20
Toshiyuki Takagi has that X-factor, which will stand him in good stead going forward.
He can change games with a moment of magic, like when he provided a world-class cross for Genki Omae to score.
3. Kim Bo-Kyung, Left Attacking Midfielder, Cerezo Osaka, Age: 22
Kim Bo-Kyung left an impression on me when he played for South Korea at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
This season, he has been the best attacking player at Cerezo Osaka, even surpassing his highly rated teammate Hiroshi Kiyotake.
Bo-Kyung is on a mission, and it's to score, score and score.
A move to Europe should be high on his to-do list.
2. Hiroshi Kiyotake, Right Attacking Midfielder, Cerezo Osaka, Age: 22
Hiroshi Kiyotake can weave his way past several opposing players and dissect the back line with a perfect through ball.
He possesses a great feel for the game, vision, nimble feet and lethal acceleration and should be a success in the Bundesliga.
Nürnberg are set to sign him for €1.2 million, according to Goal.com.
€1.2 million? That's daylight robbery.
Kiyotake is familiar with the 4-2-3-1, and Nürnberg have played that formation this season.
The player he's likely to replace is Róbert Mak, who, aside from getting past players, has been too inconsistent.
1. Hiroki Sakai, Right-Back, Kashiwa Reysol, Age: 22
Right now there are only two players I'd recommend as starters to a Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga or Serie A club: Hiroshi Kiyotake and Hiroki Sakai.
With regards to Sakai, he is strong, he is quick, he doesn't have any noticeable defensive frailties and he has a motor.
He will run up and down that right flank the entire game.
Hannover are set to sign him for €1 million, according to Goal.com.
If this deal does go through, the German club see Sakai as the successor to Steve Cherundolo.
Sakai is a better player than Cherundolo right now, but the Japanese right-back will need to bring it in training to replace the American iron man.
With Bacary Sagna out for the foreseeable future (get better, Bacary), Arsenal should hijack Hannover's deal with Sakai, just like they did when they stole Park Chu-Young from Lille.
Please read Why United Shouldn't Sign Kagawa.