After a breakout season with Belgium’s Sint-Truiden, defender Takehiro Tomiyasu appears set for a blockbuster move to Bologna in the Italian first division.
According to journalist Gianluca Di Marzio, Tomiyasu’s transfer was indirectly revealed on Tuesday by Walter Sabatini, a longtime technical director for several top Italian clubs who recently took up the role at Bologna.
The reported €6 million ($6.7 million) deal would be the biggest sale in the history of Sint-Truiden, the DMM-owned club that signed the Fukuoka native in the winter of 2018.
That sum represents what should be a respectable solidarity payment for Avispa Fukuoka, where Tomiyasu spent nine years.
Also on Tuesday, Nagoya Grampus announced that promising defender Yukinari Sugawara will join Dutch first-division club AZ Alkmaar on a one-year loan.
A Grampus academy product, Sugiwara became the youngest player to sign a professional contract with Grampus in April 2018 at 17 years and 10 months.
He was a strong performer at the recent FIFA U-20 World Cup, contributing to Japan’s run to the round of 16 with four full appearances, and also represented Japan at the 2017 U-17 World Cup — two experiences that influenced his decision to join players such as Ritsu Doan and Yuta Nakayama in the Eredivisie.
“After standing on that World Cup stage twice, the desire to go out into the world and succeed grew within me,” Sugawara said through the club. “If I want to become stronger as a player I have to come out of my shell and leave Japan.”
Surgery for Podolski
Lukas Podolski’s fitness woes this season took another strange turn after the Vissel Kobe star underwent ear surgery on June 12 in Cologne, Germany.
The striker, who stepped down as captain in April after the dismissal of then-head coach Juan Manuel Lillo, has played just once since the team’s Round 8 road defeat against Urawa Reds.
Podolski, who struggled this spring with a hamstring injury and later a viral infection, was treated for a cholesteatoma, a noncancerous skin growth that can damage the inner ear and result in a loss of hearing.
According to a news release from Vissel, Podolski will continue his recovery in Germany as a flight could reaggravate his symptoms. He is expected to return to Japan later this summer.
Ryukyu aims for J1 license
Second-division newcomers FC Ryukyu will file an application for a J1 club license this month in a bid to become the first Okinawan team eligible to compete in the J. League’s top division.
The declaration came at a Monday news conference announcing that the town of Yaese, located on the south of Okinawa’s main island, will host the team’s training facility at Gushikami Sports Park.
A dedicated training ground is one of many requirements for a J1 license, which is a prerequisite for promotion to the top flight.
“Youth soccer is flourishing and we’re near where the prefecture plans to build a new soccer stadium in Naha,” said Yaese mayor Yasuhiro Aragaki. “If a local club aims for the J1 it will lift up the entire prefecture, and we want to be a part of that process.”
Ryukyu is currently in the midst of a 30-game unbeaten streak at its home of Tapic Kenso Hiyagon Stadium, a league record.
Morita punished in rare Frontale scandal
Defending two-time J. League champion Kawasaki Frontale has earned a reputation as one of the league’s most community-oriented clubs, having fostered close ties with the city of Kawasaki since arriving in the second division in 1999.
That’s one reason that Wednesday’s announcement of a one-game suspension to star midfielder and recent national team squad member Hidemasa Morita came as such a shock to fans.
According to a Frontale news release, the 24-year-old was pulled over on Monday morning for using his cellphone while driving.
The officer responding to the incident discovered that Morita’s driver’s license had expired one week earlier on June 10.
In addition to the suspension, Morita will pay a fine to the club and perform an unspecified amount of community service.
Two club officials responsible for player development will also have their salaries reduced by 10 and five percent, respectively.
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