It is with delight that I can tell you that Takashi Usami (Midfielder) will be back in Osaka to help in our J2 campaign as he has decided to leave European football alone, for now. After we found out last month that Takashi’s loan deal at Hoffenheim of Germany would come to an end, there has been a huge amount of speculation as to whether he would be staying in Europe or if he would be heading back to Banpaku to ply his trade once more. Having chosen the latter, it’s my job to detail his return.
News broke around 5pm today in Japan that Usami will be back to play for us. Many fans have been positive about his return and cannot wait for him to pull on our blue and black uniform once more. There have been people doubting if he is actually as good as others have said he is but it is quite clear that a then-19 year old Japanese heading to Bayern Munich was always going to have a tough time of it, especially with the likes of Robben and Ribéry taking Takashi’s standard position.
For the 2012/13 season, Takashi took a step down to join Hoffenheim and after starting promisingly in a personal sense, the club found itself embroiled in a relegation battle and having been managed by 4 different (caretaker) managers in his time at Hoffenheim and with the team looking to get results any way they could, they cut out Takashi’s flair play and just about survived at the end of the season.
As neither team wanted to buy Takashi at the end of his respective loans, the speculation was that no European wanted him. SC Freiburg apparently were showing some interest in the player but they could not either afford either his loan, his purchase or to take a risk on him.
There is also the question of whether he was able to adapt to German lifestyle and it seems like he did not manage to. Under his situations at just 19 years old at the time would be tough for anyone and it probably took its toll on him. Returning to Japan and specifically Gamba should hopefully get his confidence back and now being 21, he can use his time in Japan as a way to reflect on what went wrong and use it to build another path back to European football in the future if he so wishes. He has time on his side.
Usami will be joining up with the team in training from the 18th June but will not be able to play until the 19th July. This would mean that his first appearance for Gamba in 2 years could come against Vissel Kobe at Banpaku on the 20th June. Kenta Hasegawa will get a whole month to get Usami up to scratch and allow even more competition in the squad. If Ienaga stays, then he, Usami, Paulinho, Futagawa and Abe will all be vying for those wide positions.
Welcome back to Takashi and we hope that you can dazzle us once again with your talent. More importantly, get us back home now that you are home! Things are looking exciting.