Shunsuke's return will be welcome boost for Japan
February 22, 2010: Japanese football needs a lift at the moment, and it looks as though Shunsuke Nakamura is going to provide it.
With spirits low after the struggles of the national team in the East Asian Football Championship, the fans, media and probably even the players need something positive, something to boost their self-esteem and their confidence.
So even though Shunsuke is coming back because he has failed to make the grade in Spain, this will not affect the way he is welcomed home: as a returning hero.
After failing to land him last summer when he decided to leave Celtic, Marinos will not want to make the same mistake this time; putting the Nakamura camp firmly in the driving seat when it comes to negotiations over his salary, the length of his contract and his signing-on fee. The deal is not done just yet, but it looks as though both parties want it completed quickly so the player can settle back into the J.League and work on his match fitness.
Then he can turn his attentions to the World Cup, and Takeshi Okada will feel relieved to have him back in Japan as opposed to sitting on the bench at Espanyol.
Even though it didn't work out in Spain, no one can blame Nakamura for going there and fulfilling his childhood dream. I don't believe it was primarily about money; it was simply that, at 31 years old, he had one last chance to play in the league he most admired, and would have regretted it for the rest of his career if he did not take it.
Switching from Scotland - a third-tier league in Europe, and where he was playing for one of the big two - to Spain, where the pace was much quicker and the competition much tougher and his team was not among the elite, proved too much at such an advanced stage of his career.
But he can still emerge from the experience with his reputation intact, and bring his star quality to Japan at a time the football scene really needs a spark.
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