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Koji can put his career back on track

6 Feb 2006(Mon)

February 3: At last, Koji Nakata has left Marseille.

The former Antlers star had a rough time in France, even though most times I saw his face in the papers he was smiling.

But now the nightmare is over, following his transfer to FC Basel in Switzerland and the signing of a contract through to June 2008.

Personally, I think this is a great move for Koji, and the kind of deal Shinji Ono would probably have wanted.

First of all, Switzerland is a wonderful country, and will be perfect for Koji to enjoy the mixture of European cultures...French, German and Italian, with English widely spoken, too.

Second, the fo otball is of a standard where Koji can have an impact. Obviously it is a big step down from Marseille and the French league, but this does not mean it is a backward step for the player.

He can focus again on playing, and has the time to establish himself as a first-team regular. I am sure he has the quality, the experience and the versatility to be a success at Basel, and he must feel liberated by his new, extremely pleasant surroundings.

So good luck to Koji for sticking it out in Europe. He could have moved to Israel, but went back to Marseille and waited for something more attractive. He has found that now in Switzerland.

As for his position on the pitch, I still think he is Japan's most natural defensive midfield player.

In a 4-4-2, 3-5-2 or 3-4-2-1 formation, Koji can easily fit into one of the two defensive midfield slots. He reads the game so well and gives the team balance in midfield, an d could be partnered by Hidetoshi Nakata, Ono, Inamoto or Fukunishi.

A match-fit Koji gives Zico many options, so his welcome move to Basel is not just good for the player, but for the national team, too.


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