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Nakazawa looks ripe for Euro move

22 Jul 2004(Thu)

It can't be long before the next Japanese player moves to Europe.

So far, all the exports have been midfielders or forwards.

Maybe the next one will be a defender, and it could well be Yuji Nakazawa.

The more I see Nakazawa, the more I feel he would be at home with a European club, and there has already been interest from Germany.

The first job of a defender, of course, is to defend.

Nakazawa does this well, in the air and on the ground. He has the perfect physique for a defender, tall but not ungainly.

He always looks very relaxed and comfortable on the ball, and uses his body well when defending. This is an aspect of play Philippe Troussier always encouraged from his players, to make their physical presence felt in every challenge.

Nakazawa has also looked very impressive going forward from his position on the left side of Zico's three-man defense.

He knows when to attack and when to stay back, and you never see him out of position and scrambling to get back as an opponent breaks down the right wing.

In the build-up to the 2002 World Cup, Troussier would often comment that Japanese defenders were just as tall and heavy as defenders from other countries, so it was a myth to describe the Japanese as being too small or too fragile to play in Europe.

Crucially, Nakazawa also has the outgoing personality to accompany his play. Marinos manager Takeshi Okada picked Nakazawa as his MVP last season, and said he had emerged as a natural leader during the team's two-stage slam.

If he continues his good form at the Asian Cup in China, Nakazawa may have the chance to move on, and make his mark as the first Japanese defender in Europe.

ends

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