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Hiroshima’s Aoyama named J. League MVP

by Shintaro Kano

Kyodo

Sanfrecce Hiroshima midfielder Toshihiro Aoyama was named Player of the Year at this season’s J. League Awards on Monday.

The 29-year-old Aoyama appeared in 33 games and netted three goals for Hiroshima, which won its third league title in four years in 2015. Aoyama is Sanfrecce’s second MVP after Hisato Sato won the award in 2012.

Aoyama was nothing short of industrious for Hajime Moriyasu’s men, who also finished third at the Club World Cup and are still in the hunt for the Emperor’s Cup crown.

He ran more than any other Hiroshima player this season, logging almost 387 km and trailed only Matsumoto Yamaga fullback Hayuma Tanaka in distance covered in the league overall.

The Player of the Year is selected by a league panel from the Best XI, who are chosen by their fellow players and managers in the 18 J1 clubs.

Joining Aoyama on the Best XI are two teammates, defender Tsukasa Shiotani and forward Douglas. Two of his former teammates now at Urawa Reds, goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa and Tomoaki Makino, also made the list.

The others are: FC Tokyo defenders Kosuke Ota and Masato Morishige; Gamba Osaka’s former league MVP Yasuhito Endo and forward Takashi Usami; Kashima Antlers winger Mu Kanazaki and Kawasaki Frontale striker Yoshito Okubo, the league’s top scorer for an unprecedented third straight year.

Endo was a Best XI mention for a record 12th time, while Douglas and Kanazaki cracked the all-first team for the first time.