Reports from the Japanese media have stated that Shoki Hirai (25, Striker) and Lee Seung-Yeoul (23, Striker) will both return to the club for the J2 season in 2013. This would be a massive help given that Leandro was the main man last season whilst Akihiro Sato has already been projected to be out until June through injury.
Shoki Hirai was on loan to Albirex Niigata as the changes were wrung when Serrão was put in charge of Gamba for the 2012 season. Hirai made a total sum of 28 appearances for Niigata and he scored only two goals. Nevertheless, his starts were very limited within those 28 appearances, with nine starts and only four of those in the league. His only goals came in the Nabisco Cup with one against Omiya Ardija in a 4-3 comeback win and the sole goal in a 1-0 win against Vissel Kobe. But don’t despair, his record for Gamba is much better. In a total of 72 appearances for Gamba, he has scored 22 goals, including 14 in 30 league matches in 2010.
Lee Seung-Yeoul was purchased from F.C. Seoul last season and appeared eight times for Gamba, starting just three of those eight and accumulating just 253 minutes on the pitch without any goals in what was a difficult time for him and the team as a whole. He was sent out on loan to Ulsan Hyundai. He scored just two times in fourteen appearances during his spell there but he was second best behind the partnership of former Gamba duo Rafinha and Lee Keun-Ho. He was a winner of the AFC with Ulsan although he did only make two appearances worth ten minutes, whilst he was an unused substitute in the final. His record before moving to Gamba was slightly more impressive, scoring 24 goals in 116 appearances in all competitions for Seoul, with many of those appearances coming from the bench.
Both players seem to be confidence players so we must hope that the new manager Kenta Hasegawa, who is believed to be unveiled as the new manager tomorrow (25/12/2012), ensures that these two get some playing time. These moves cast doubt upon the futures of fellow strikers Paulinho, Kawanishi and Hoshihara, although all of this has yet to be confirmed. I will keep you updated.
In other news, reports are stating that Shinichi Terada, who spent the majority of last season on loan to Yokohama F.C., as well as the two previous seasons, will be sold to the club. Terada played nine games for Gamba last season before being loaned to Yokohama. He scored no goals and will be remembered for his penalty miss against Sanfreece Hiroshima when Gamba were 2-1 down, which proved costly as the game went on to finish 4-1 to Hiroshima. He was also part of the title-winning team in 2005 but found his overall playing time limited to 98 appearances in his seven seasons with the club, scoring 12 goals. If his transfer is proven to be correct, I wish him and Yokohama the best of luck on their quest to rejoin J1. Of course, all the worst of luck when you play Gamba.
Any other news will be reported as and when I get it. Merry Christmas everyone.