It’s all change for Japan’s growing foreign legion of footballers, most of whom are plying their trade in Europe. Have you been paying attention to all the moves in the transfer market? If so, you should be able to complete these sentences from recent news reports without clicking on the links or referring to the names listed underneath:
Jan. 11: Eibar midfielder ___ ___ opened his account for the season Sunday in a 2-1 loss away against Levante in the Spanish top flight.
Bonus (same report, different player): ___ ____ came off the bench for Eibar but was unable to add to his tally. In November, the 28-year-old became the first Japanese player to score in each of the German Bundesliga, English Premier League and La Liga.
Jan. 19: Japan prodigy ___ ___ said Monday he was seeking more playing time as he left Villarreal after half a season and joined Getafe on another loan deal this month from Spanish giant Real Madrid. “I’m young and need more playing time, and want to feel like I’m a soccer player,” the 19-year-old midfielder said.
Jan. 25: Japan captain ___ ___ netted his first goal in the Italian top flight Sunday to help Sampdoria defeat Parma 2-0. The 32-year-old center back, who moved from English Premier League side Southampton midway through last season, capitalized on a defensive lapse to score the winner in the 25th minute.
Feb. 5: ___ ___ will join Portuguese first-division side Portimonense until the end of the season after parting ways with Brazilian club Botafogo, the former Japan midfielder said Thursday. The 34-year-old has also had spells with AC Milan, CSKA Moscow, Dutch sides Vitesse Arnhem and VVV-Venlo, Mexico’s Pachuca and Australia’s Melbourne Victory.
Feb. 7: ___ ___ scored a dazzling goal in his debut for Southampton on Saturday, finding the net in the first half of a 3-2 loss to Newcastle United. The Japan winger , who arrived on loan from Liverpool earlier in the week, struck in the 30th minute after his side had gone behind 2-0.
Players (alphabetical order): Keisuke Honda / Maya Yoshida / Takashi Inui / Takefusa Kubo / Takumi Minamino / Yoshinori Muto