Saints fans were clambering for some defensive strengthening and despite the continuous links with Premier League journeymen and relegation specialists like Scott Dann and Curtis Davies, Nicola Cortese and Nigel Adkins went further afield again.
As ever the these English players seem drastically over priced for what they are and the signing of Japanese Olympic captain Maya Yoshida for a fee believed to be around £2 million seems to be a bargain in comparison.
Highly rated Yoshida signed from Ducth club VVV-Venlo on Thursday and will join up with the squad after the international break.
He will join countryman Tadanari Lee at the club as Nigel Adkins creates a United Nations in Southampton. When Lee signed georgeweahscousin.com hooked up with French Eurosport J-League commentator and Japanese football expert Clément Delestrade and Clément was happy to give us the lowdown on Yoshida too.
“Yoshida is a Nagoya Grampus product and he’s been expected to shine for a long time due to an unusual, in Japanese football, combination of size and talent. We lack big guys at the back and he’s been filling that hole. But let’s come back to the roots, he started in 2007 as a defensive midfielder but was quickly moved to the defense where he was more comfortable.
His good performances led to a selection for the Olympics in 2008 and as you can see on Wikipedia, the team really disappointed despite a generation which, afterwards, revealed itself to be really strong. He cemented a starting position in Nagoya, which was quite a feat considering he was only 20, and never stopped growing until he got a call from VVV-Venlo, looking for another japanese player after Keisuke Honda’s departure. He signed for them in 2010 but unfortunately, he picked up a big injury during his first training sesssion that delayed his inclusion to the team. He needed 8 months to recover but once healthy, he came back almost straight into the starting eleven. Let’s be honest, VVV are a terrible, horrendous team and even your dog could start there. He’s never looked incredible there, probably because his teammates were really poor, but has still managed to contribute to their survival in the Eredivisie (the last two years they needed a playoff to stay in the top division)
I can say that he’s worth better than that because there’s the national team player Maya Yoshida who has been excellent since his inclusion in 2011. Alberto Zaccheroni trusted him from the get-go. He had already been capped once in 2010 but it was for a match in Yemen, for which the JFA didn’t want to send the senior team due to the military conflict, and I don’t consider it as a real selection. For his first match, he was placed straight into the starting eleven in the Asia Cup, the equivalent of the Euro’s. He scored an unlucky own goal (a deflection) that put Japan behind against Jordan but he had the guts to equalise in the very last minute, a crucial goal that paved the way for Japan to become Champions. Since then he’s an absolute starter and he has added another moment of glory, a goal late into injury time that gave Japan the 1-0 win over North Korea.
Because he’s a young player, a great one, with the stature of a leader who needed to showcase himself in order to get a transfer, the U23 coach Sekizuka decided to select him for his second Olympics despite the fact he was just coming back from an ankle injury he had picked up against Oman. And that’s when he blew our minds, I wasn’t really amused by Yoshida’s goofy character (his blog has a huge following and he does TV shows and stuff) because I thought that was harmful for his football career but I saw a new Yoshida, composed, a leader far from the clown we’re used to seeing, who played at a very high level throughout the competition. He completely fulfilled the role that was given to him by the coach and he was one of the main reasons why Japan kept 4 clean sheets until the semi-final against Mexico.
After the Olympics I thought he was easily going to find a club, loads of average European players are moving for incredible transfer fees these days, but I was really surprised this was dragged for so long. In the end I’m very happy he signed for Southampton.”
Thanks Clément for his input. Sounds like we have a real character in Yoshida and more importantly a player with fantastic potential.