Soccer

Japanese right back Sai van Wermeskerken prepares to join Zwolle

by Dan Orlowitz

Staff Writer

Sai van Wermeskerken will become the latest Japanese player to join a top-flight European club this summer as he prepares to sign with the Netherlands’ PEC Zwolle pending the completion of a medical examination.

The 25-year-old right back, born in the Netherlands to a Dutch father and Japanese mother, moved to Japan as a 2-year-old and spent a decade in Ventforet Kofu’s youth system.

Van Wermeskerken moved back to the Netherlands with a 2013 transfer to FC Dordrecht, making his first-division debut in May 2015. One year later he was selected to Japan’s U-23 squad and was considered a dark horse candidate for Makoto Teguramori’s Rio 2016 roster.

“At Cambuur I really worked on establishing myself on the right and contributing to our offensive game,” van Wermeskerken told The Japan Times. “At Zwolle I want to build that path from the right side to our attack.

“My minimum aim is to earn a regular starting position, and then I want to create a difference on the pitch and become a player capable of being called up to the national team.”

Van Wermeskerken spent the last two campaigns with second-division side SC Cambuur and was named to this year’s Eerstedivisie team of the season after being the only field player to record all 38 complete appearances.

“Last year I was able to establish my playing style through making full appearances in every game,” van Wermeskerken said. “My selection to the team of the year gave me confidence that I’ve been on the right track.”

Wermeskerken will be the second Japanese player at Zwolle after 22-year-old center back Yuta Nakayama, who earned two appearances this season following his January transfer from Kashiwa Reysol.

“Nakayama is a very good guy and I’m looking forward to playing with him,” said van Wermeskerken.