Avispa Fukuoka Season Preview: Can Lukian send this surging side even higher?

Avispa Fukuoka Season Preview: Can Lukian send this surging side even higher?

Avispa Fukuoka have a fervent base of support that has propelled the team for decades and those fans were rewarded last season with a terrific return to the MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE. Long one of the best producers of emerging talent in the country, Avispa remains an incubator for youth players, helping set the future of Japanese football. How will they fare in 2022, though?

Last season

Avispa were promoted back to the top flight in 2021 and thrived, even spending time competing for a top four place early in the campaign. They settled into an eighth-place finish, which is wildly impressive for a team just bumped into J1 and sets the stage for a very bright future.

Key additions

Lukian joins Avispa from Júbilo Iwata, where he was spectacular in 2021. He led J2 with 22 goals and now brings that goal scoring threat to a team that is hoping for a boost up front. Tatsuya Tanaka also comes over from Urawa Reds and Tatsuki Nara has made his loan a permanent move, ensuring that the reliable defender will stay at Avispa.

Key departures

Emil Salomonsson was a dynamic presence for Avispa at both ends of the pitch but he has returned to Sweden, leaving an opportunity for someone else to stake a claim to his fullback spot. John Mary and Bruno Mendes have also left, opening chances up front for the likes of Lukian.

Goal for 2022

Avispa have been on a massive upward trajectory. They went from a midtable J2 team to promotion, then took J1 by storm with a terrific 2021. They want to keep that arrow pointing up and there’s no reason to think the Fukuoka club can’t do that. Staying in the top half of the table doesn’t just seem like a reasonable goal, but improving on last season’s eighth place finish is very much in the cards. A deep cup run or even delivering the first piece of silverware to the club can happen. There’s no reason for Avispa not to be thinking big.

What to watch for

Lukian is going to be a thrill. His well-rounded game and nose for goal are rare and Fukuoka may have made one of the best signings of the winter by bringing him in. It’s unlikely he puts up the same numbers as he did in J2, but he can be an outright star in J1 and Avispa were smart to snap him up.

If Avispa had a flaw last season, it was the lack of a star goal scorer to lift up the attack. Nobody on the team scored more than five goals, but Jordy Croux had some memorable ones and is back to deliver an all-around attacking threat. Tanaka’s arrival should also help bolster an attacking midfield unit that now has a dynamic target up front. Put that kind of passing behind Lukian and Avispa have to be feeling like not only do they have a star up top, but they have the firepower behind him to make sure he can thrive.