After spending the second half of last season on loan from Shimizu S-Pulse, Keisuke Iwashita (Defender, 26) has made that move to Gamba permanent which will ease the lack of central-defensive players, with Kim Jung-Ya and Sota Nakazawa having already departed.
Iwashita started his professional career at Shimizu S-Pulse in 2005 and remained a player there until last season. He was eased into life in J1 under new Gamba manager Kenta Hasegawa, boss of Shimizu at the time, and his career went onwards and upwards from there. He impressed during this time but in recent years he has become a bit more erratic and failed to regain the form he had under Hasegawa with Afshin Ghotbi at the helm of the club. Wholesale changes during mid-season from Shimizu lead to Keisuke also being allowed to leave. His behaviour at times was not great at Shimizu, having collected four red cards whilst in Shizuoka as well having his relationship turn sour with the fans. In seven and a half seasons with S-Pulse, he played 175 games and he scored 17 goals as a centre-half.
Keisuke made his debut for Gamba as a substitute in the 2-2 Osaka Derby. He was often rotated between right-back and centre-half due to injuries to Kaji and the reluctance to use Takei there or to use Niwa and Kim and centre-half (very understandable!). He was for the most part stable (within an unstable defence) but showed his flamboyant side when he conceded a penalty against Niigata in the 90th minute to tie the game at 1-1. Nevertheless, the fans really loved him and seem delighted to know that he will be back for the promotion charge in 2013. He played 18 games on loan and scored one goal; that was against Machida Zelvia in the Emperor’s Cup 3-2 win.
The hope for this season is that Keisuke can return to his best form under former boss Hasegawa, which must have been an important and persuasive factor in his decision to become a permanent Gamba player. I am really hoping that he can become a leader at the back and prove to everyone that he still has what it takes to become a top J1 player. Thank you for staying with us in spite of relegation last season. Everyone appreciates it!