NIIGATA – Highly-rated teenage striker Takashi Usami is close to a move to German Bundesliga giant Bayern Munich from Gamba Osaka, Kyodo News learned Thursday.
“Nothing is finalized yet but he (Usami) has a clause in his contract to move if a foreign team comes in for him and we can’t stop him,” Gamba head of team operations Hiroyasu Yamamoto said Thursday.
Usami won his first callup to the senior Japan national team for the Kirin Cup exhibition tournament that kicked off in Niigata on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old, who was kept on the bench for the 0-0 draw with Peru at Big Swan, refused to make comment on Bayern but admitted he was keen to move to Europe.
“If I have a chance then I want to move to Europe while I am still young but I can’t make any comment (about moving to Bayern),” Usami said after Thursday’s training session.
Widely regarded as Japan’s brightest prospect, Usami scored on his professional debut for Gamba aged just 17 in a 2-1 defeat to FC Seoul in the Asian Champions League in May 2009. He won the J. League young player of the year award last season.
Usami would be the sixth product of Gamba’s youth system to move to Europe, following Junichi Inamoto, Masashi Oguro, Akihiro Ienaga, Michihiro Yasuda and Tsuneyasu Miyamoto.
Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni has borrowed Usami from the Under-22 set up to give him experience but has repeatedly dodged questions about whether he will play him during the three-nation Kirin Cup that also features the Czech Republic.
Usami, though, is happy to simply be part of the squad and is enjoying the learning curve.
“I know I have to do better. I have only been involved in two training sessions and need more,” said Usami. “I watched from the bench (on Wednesday) and tried to look at the way I might have played and got forward.
“All the players are treating me well and the ones that are based in Europe have talked to me about what it’s like over there.”