Tokyo, August 29, 2006: So Mitsuo Ogasawara has finally swapped Japan for Italy.
The midfield playmaker has been the subject of transfer rumours for a couple of seasons now, and he left Japan on Monday for a one-year spell on loan with Messina.
Who can blame him for going -- and for getting out of Japan so quickly?
After all, there wasn't much left for him here, apart from staying with Kashima Antlers and hoping for a national team recall.
But after playing in the last two World Cups, and being overlooked so far by Osim, Ogasawara must feel his international career is over, so why shouldn't he move to Italy while he has the chance? Perhaps his last chance.
The timing, then, is perfect under these circumstances, and, without the pressure of trying to impress for his club so that he can stay in the national squad, Ogasawara might just thrive in this environment.
On the subject of the national squad, I think the policy of Osim will force many players to think more carefully about their future, and not just take the first offer that comes along from a European club.
Osim is clearly showing he has faith in the ability of the J.League players, and letting everyone know that it is not a disadvantage to be playing in Japan as opposed to playing in Europe.
Younger players will have to think carefully about this matter when, or if, offers come up, but Ogasawara was not in this category.
He has been there and done that with the national team, and has nothing to prove to anyone, and nothing to lose.
He can relax and enjoy himself in Italy, and think only of settling into a new lifestyle with his young family -- and not think about all the travel and hassle for Japan national team games.