My personal take on the Hiramoto situation is this........
1. It hurts Verdy- Good young players (ready to perform) are in short supply on Verdy, and Hiramoto is the best out of all of them. One could make a reasonable argument that he is the best player on the team. This is a double blow.......it takes away one of the homegrown guys and it takes away an attacking force. While adding somebody the caliber of a Hulk will soften the blow, there is something special about having a fellow countryman being the big attacker on the team......He has been billed as the heir to Kazu.
2. It adds to the long line of talent fleeing Verdy- Something is wrong when one of the vanguards of Japanese football is leaking like the Titanic. Hiramoto would be following in the footsteps of Nakazawa, Kobe Miura, Soma, and Daigo. Is this team headed for Bellmare status? Perennial second division?
3. Hiramoto's prime is coming soon- Next year he becomes 26. Strikers are hard pressed to stay around longer than 33 (Kazu nonwithstanding). It's a little rough for a guy with big aspirations to be playing in the minors when guys like Kazunori Iio, Hiroshi Morita, and Tatsuhiko Kubo stumbled around last year in starting positions for J1. A competitor hates seeing lesser lights trying to shine on the big stages.
4. A challenge might bring out the best in Hiramoto- Many times last year, it looked like Hiramoto was bored or mentally unprepared to play. 48 games against mediocre competition in empty arenas can suck the life out of the best of them. The teams subpar play and a manager who was erratic in his selections and a slaughterer of team chemistry probably added to the frustration and malaise.
5. A good choice could mean National team glory, a bad choice........- All you have to do is look at the fortunes of two of Verdys former young prodigies. Takahito Soma jumped on board front running Urawa and was buried behind Alessandro Santos. Averaging about 9 minutes a game, Soma got his trophy but has virtually disappeared of National team radar. Meanwhile, Daigo Kobayashi joined up with small squad Omiya Ardija and has gained many accolades including a J League best 28 and a small cameo on the National team.
3 teams have been identified as suitors to Hiramoto
1. JEF Chiba- The defending Nabisco Cup champions have been the most credible link to a Hiramoto transfer, putting in an official bid for the strikers services. National coach Osim likes to pick from his former squad, choosing 6 members in friendlies and Asia Cup competitions. JEF boasts one of the best midfields in the league led by Yuki Abe.......maybe. The downside to Chiba is the instability in their coaching ranks. Osim the Junior struggled mightily to inspire the troops after their Nabisco cup triumph, falling to 11th in the league and bombing out of Emperors Cup to second division Consadole.......More of the same?
2. Nagoya Grampus 8- Grampus went on a tear after the addition of Frode Johnsen, finishing up 7th. If Hiramoto were to join up, he would be the 3rd striker in a 3-3-4 behind Frodo and young striker Keita Sugimoto. This would mean much more defense with the lack of the 4th midfielder. The team was able to turn it on at the end but it remains to be seen if Sef Vergoosen can remain successful in the J League and actually have the cash and talent laden sleeping giant of Nagoya contend for a title.
3. Urawa Reds- It seems like no matter who is out there, Urawa is linked to them. Probably the least likely destination........new coach situation, a relatively deep pool of strikers for a 1 striker scheme, and rumors of adding players like Bare really causes me to brush this off as an option. The positive would be national recognition (8 national team players) and perennial championship contention as well as a reunion with old friends Soma and Washington. The negative would be lack of playing time and long months of Sattlelite league ball.
Rough proposition for everyone involved.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
Vegalta superstriker Borges has been targeted by 4 big powers in the Brazilian leagues. Cruziero, Flumenense, Sao Paolo, and Corinthians have all put in bids to take the prolific scorer off of the Sendai squads hands.