Friday, 9 August 2013


Who is he? Where does he play?

Looking for the next-eastern world star who can not only appeal to tonnes of excitable young Asian girls but also prove to be pretty handy on the football pitch, look no further than Kiyotake, the 23 year old Japanese striker playing in Germany for Nuremberg.

We've seen the Japan to Germany route once before?

Yep we have, in Shinji Kagawa who left Cerezo Osaka for Borrussia Dortmund three years ago. It was Kiyotake who took Kagawa's place in the Osaka side, plugging the vacant attacking midfield gap like the now-Manchester United midfielder had not left, displaying a fine first touch and intelligent pass selection as he drifts elegantly around the final third.

He did very well then?

His form at Cerezo, where he scored 19 goals in 85 games over the course of 3 years, saw him called into the full-Japan national team and has so far earned 18 caps, including a few at last year's Olympics in London. Just before that, he joined Nuremberg for £1 million, and jetted off to the Bundesliga. His debut year in Europe has been a great success, scoring four goals and assisting ten, a tally more impressive than Bayern Munich's big money hipster-favourite Mario Gotze.

And that's got him some headlines?

On the back pages yes, in those mundanely tenuous gossip columns. If you have read one recently, you may have noticed Aston Villa are reportedly interested in Kiyotake and are believed to be preparing a £7.5 million offer, but the German club will hold out for £10 million. Nuremberg general manager, Martin Bader, has been stubborn in his refusal to let the Japanese leave, saying "we have made it clear that we have no interest or intention to sell the player. Such inquiries flatter us but Hiroshi is here to stay". Could he make it more unequivocal than that? Probably not.

He'd fit Aston Villa down to the ground?

He definitely would given Villa's apparent lack of a true creative force in the middle of the pitch and his ability to read the game intelligently and dictate the play with poise would be a huge asset. He would also fit in with Paul Lambert's penchant for signing talented young players as well as the added bonus of being able to sell shirts in the far east. However, there is more to him than that, 5ft 8 inches worth in fact, of excellent technique and vision, adept at creating chances in space between the lines. Just like Kagawa.............

You can watch him in action here; and here

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