First-Half JSTATS: Junker, Araki and Kaneko emerge as bonafide stars

First-Half JSTATS: Junker, Araki and Kaneko emerge as bonafide stars

Using JSTATS to evaluate standout attacking performances in the first half of the 2021 MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE season, three of the names that merit a closer look for their roles within their teams are Kasper Junker of Urawa Reds, Ryotaro Araki of Kashima Antlers, and Takuro Kaneko of Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo.

Urawa Reds were expected to transform this season under new manager Ricardo Rodriguez, but the real transformation came when Kasper Junker joined the team in May. Right off the bat, Junker won MEIJI YASUDA J1 LEAGUE Konami MVP of the month and he has already scored seven goals, which is tied for the most by a new foreign player this season (Shimizu S-Pulse's Thiago Santana, who has been with the club since the beginning of the season, has the same tally). The Dane’s success comes largely due to his ability to put shots on frame, as he leads the league in percentage of shots on target.

As far as players under 20 years old go, Kashima Antlers’ Ryotaro Araki has been the standout player in Japan. He has scored six goals and assisted five, the most of any player in his generation. He’s also shown his versatility, playing both centrally and on the wing. The result is a youngster at the heart of the Kashima attack, ranking first in the team in the number of through passes.

But what about spectacular dribblers? If you’re looking for that in Japan, look no further than Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo's Takuro Kaneko. He tops the J.LEAGUE in dribbling chances and ranks first total dribbles and crosses from dribbles. He is also third in the league in the number of shots off the dribble, too, and is also third in number of chances created. With the ball at Kaneko’s feet, anything is possible.

(Stats as of July 17, provided by Data Stadium, Inc.)

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