Shohei Otsuka (Striker, 22) today became the first player to leave Gamba Osaka for the 2013 with his transfer to JEF United Chiba, the club that he went on loan to for the whole of the 2012 season.
As a player who was born in Osaka and part of the club since 2003, Otsuka had dreams of breaking into the first team as he developed as a player. He did this in 2009, making his debut against Júbilo Iwata. Yet in all that time, he made in total just nine appearances for Gamba and he scored just three goals in this time. He had fierce competition ahead of him when he was loaned out to JEF at the start of the 2012 season and seeing that Leandro will be staying for at least another six months, Akihiro Sato can only get better after his return from injury, Lee and Hirai are coming back from loan spells and Paulinho, Kawanishi and Hoshihara are still on the books (for now at least), Otsuka would have to be very potent and skilled to get through that line-up.
Nevertheless, his loan spell to JEF was not a happy time, with him just getting one goal in 15 league appearances, with his season total score of two in 17 appearances, joined with only eight league starts to boot. In addition, he was a substitute in 20 games and had only seven appearances from the bench coupled with eight starts shows that he still has a lot to learn and must face competition in J2 if he is going to make it back to J1 as a prolific striker. He will certainly need to rack up more than the 677 minutes he got last season; time is on his side however and J2 could be the perfect place for him if the new management at JEF allows him to do that. It does seem that way otherwise he would be on his way back to Osaka or to another team.
I want to wish Shohei the best for his future and I hope he can get some time under his belt at JEF, as well as some goals, as long as they are not against his former employers when the two teams meet in J2 next season. Thank you for your service to the club!