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The Shunsuke Debate resumes

18 Sep 2008(Thu)

September 17, 2008: The new season is up and running; the Shunsuke Season, that is.

Will he stay in Glasgow or will he return to Japan and his first love, Yokohama F Marinos, at the earliest opportunity?

This question is not new, as it seems to resurface on a regular basis, but on this occasion it really does look like the end of his time in Scotland is near.

Citing family reasons and the tough travel schedule for international matches, Nakamura has given the strongest hint yet that he will leave Celtic and return to Yokohama in the January transfer window.

His current deal with Celtic does not end until June 2009, and there is an option for him to stay for another season, which would take him right through to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, should Japan qualify, of course.

But his recent comments suggest he has had enough, and that the home comforts are proving to be a bigger and bigger attraction.

Personally, I hope Nakamura stays in Scotland, at least until the end of this season.
He has been a big success in the green and white hoops since moving to Scotland in the summer of 2005, and has another UEFA Champions League campaign to look forward to, including two more group games against Manchester United.

There is no doubt his own game has matured during his time in Scotland, and he has developed a winning mentality which rubs off on his teammates when he plays for Japan. They look up to him, and while he is not a leader in the mould of Hidetoshi Nakata, he is an inspiration to the national team.

In the coming months, Japan will need his influence to get through their World Cup qualifying group, but if he returns to Japan in January he might lose this competitive edge to his game and become less effective.

No matter the opposition, the Scottish Premier League keeps him tough and focused, and the competition for places in Gordon Strachan's starting line up is strong. On top of this, the Champions League gives him the chance to shine under the global spotlight. This is too much to give up at this moment of his career.

The J.League can wait.

ends

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