Hoffenheim have decided against taking up the option to buy Takashi Usami from Gamba Osaka, from whom he joined on loan last summer after a miserable time the previous season at German giants Bayern Munich.
Seen as one of the rising talents of Japan, he made his debut for Gamba in the 2009 ACL Group Stage against FC Seoul, also scoring in that match. He had just turned 17 at the time and he turned out to be one of the integral parts of the Gamba team on the left side, playing a total of 66 games in all competitions with an impressive total of 17 goals.
Bayern Munich came knocking on the Banpaku door for Usami in 2011 and he left on loan during the middle of that season for the entire 2011-12 German season. He was limited in terms of playing time, getting just 3 outings in the league and 1 outing each in the DFB Pokal Cup and the Champions League, tallying 1 goal that season. He was an unused substitute for Bayern in their defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League final, although he was just making up the numbers thanks to suspensions and injuries to key players.
His loan was not extended there so Hoffenheim gave him the chance to stay in Germany. The season started brightly for Takashi, scoring a stunning solo effort against Stuttgart and scoring his first goal in a 5-3 defeat to SC Freiburg. Things turned sour as Hoffenheim slid down the table and eventually into the relegation zone, with Takashi’s flair not wanted in a team battling at the bottom. The new manager Markus Gisdol has stated that Usami’s chances of playing the last few games are very slim.
They had the opportunity to buy Takashi at the end of his loan deal for around €3 million (¥390 million, £2.5 million, US$3.9 million) but that will not happen. His loan ends on the 30th June and with only 6 months left on his contract, along with not impressing during his time in Germany, it looks likely that he will have to return to Banpaku. He could return for the away match against FC Gifu (which I will be going to), if everything goes our way.
It is a shame that such a talented player has been dragged through the mud and wasted 2 years of his footballing career in terms of playing time, but he would have learnt a lot from the experience and, as he will turn 21 next month, he has plenty of time to try again in the future. For now, he should come back to Banpaku and get us back home for 2014. What do you think?
With thanks to vinciperosaka.com for some of these details.