Most readers would agree that Hidetoshi Nakata is still Japan's best player.
Some may say Shinji Ono, and you would have a strong case, as these two players have proved in Europe they are in a class of their own.
But is the Japan national team missing Nakata, despite his many qualities?
This is a very interesting situation, and clearly Zico was in no hurry to bring him back for the critical World Cup qualifier against Oman at Muscat on October 13.
In the early days of Zico's reign, I felt that the new, inexperienced national coach depended too heavily on Nakata.
He was captain, playmaker and unofficial assistant coach all at the same time. During some training sessions, in fact, Nakata did more talking than Zico himself.
Zico's reliance on one key player created the scenario his predecessor, Philippe Troussier, worked desperately to avoid, and Japan did not function as a team.
To Troussier, Nakata was just one player, with the same value to the team as Matsuda, Morioka or Koji Nakata, or Toda and Myojin. Without Nakata, Zico's Japan have looked much more like a team, because the workload is more evenly distributed.
Also, the formation has changed from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2, and the Japanese players look much more comfortable with this style.
You wonder if some of the players feel a bit intimidated by Nakata's presence, as he has a very strong personality on the pitch.
This is not Nakata's fault, of course, as the players must have the confidence to communicate and lift their game at the right time.
For the match in Oman, where a draw would be good enough for Japan to advance to the final Asian qualifying round, Nakamura will return as playmaker in the 3-5-2 formation.
When Nakata is fully fit again after his groin injury, what is Zico going to do with his leading player and captain?
I have said this before, but if Zico wants to keep his 3-5-2 formation, and keep Shunsuke as the playmaker, and have Ono and Inamoto in defensive midfield and Alex on the left wing, there's only one place for Nakata: on the right wing, instead of Kaji.
Nakata had a fine second season there for Parma, although he wanted to play more centrally, and I think he could do a great job there for Japan.
But that's in the future.
In Oman, I feel Japan will get the draw they need to advance. It looks like a 0-0 to me.