9 – Lins
Everyone has high expectations of the man who netted 11 goals in 34 appearances for his former club in Brazil which is a great tally considering his side ended up just above the relegation zone. Whilst he probably will not play as a centre forward as many people want, he should be played off the main striker to good effect. He will need some time to get accustomed to the country and the league and I think he will be better next season. Nevertheless, you cannot help but to expect good things from the off considering we bought him out of a contract with just 6 months remaining. Getting into double figures in the league will be a successful season if he was to achieve it and he will get the chance with Usami out for two months.
20 – Akihiro Sato
It was a tough 2013 for Sato but he finally made his comeback after a year out with a knee injury. He was limited to mainly substitute appearances but did score on his return to Banpaku. Whether he starts alongside Usami will be interesting to see but I am expecting to see the Sato of 2012 back amongst our ranks. His J1 debut season in 2012 was excellent and showed us that Sato can make it in J1 and score plenty of goals whilst creating a bunch to, so whether he starts or is on the bench, his impact will be more often than not great. I hope he can stay injury free and show us what we have missed sorely over the last 18 months or so since his injury, especially with Usami injured now – we will be depending on Sato a lot during the early part of the season.
24 – Naoki Ogawa
Just like Yuto Uchida, Ogawa joins from the Youth team and spent time in training with the top team last year, as well as being part of the national team set-up at their age category. Although he calls himself an attacking midfielder, Naoki has been designated as a striker this year – and we might just need him with Usami injured for the first part of the season. I would expect him to get games somewhere during this time but whether he is limited to mainly Nabisco Cup or stupid J3 games, only time will tell. It will probably be more of a bedding-in season for Naoki but expect him to show glimpses of his future quality when the time comes.
39 – Takashi Usami
Oh what a real shame that Usami is also injured for around 8 weeks! Having been the difference between Gamba finishing 2nd in J2 to us actually being the champions, his loss will be huge. Having said that, he scored no goals in pre-season but should still be full of confidence when he returns having banged the goals in during his less than half a season with us in J2. He said he wants 15 goals this year and it might be tough due to his injury but he can definitely do it. He will need to hit the ground running when he returns and hope that the other guys can cover for him until then. He will definitely be a difference this year, but in what positive form, I do not know.