With the 2020 J.LEAGUE season in the books, teams have turned their attention to the upcoming campaign and with the competition tougher than ever, they know they have to upgrade their squads to keep up.
Shimizu S-Pulse made two big moves, first bringing Shūichi Gonda in on loan from Portimonense. The move lands one of the national team’s top goalkeepers back in the J.LEAGUE, where he formerly starred for FC Tokyo and Sagan Tosu. S-Pulse also nabbed Thiago, a Brazilian who scored 7 goals in 9 matches to start off the Portuguese Liga Nos season before moving to S-Pulse this month. A lower profile move that may pay off big time by S-Pulse was picking up Akira Silvano Disaro, who finished second on the MEIJI YASUDA J2 LEAGUE scoring chart last season.
Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo also upgraded their front line, acquiring Gabriel Okechukwu. The 25-year-old forward has 5 caps for Nigeria to his name. It wasn’t all good news for the club, though, who lost a key member of their defense in Ryosuke Shindo to Cerezo Osaka.
Cerezo Osaka didn’t just pick up Shindo to sort out their defense, though. They also ratcheted up things up front by bringing in Adam Taggart from the Suwon Samsung Bluewings. The 27-year-old played for Australia at the 2014 World Cup and has Golden Boot awards from the A-League and K-League to his name.
In the league-wide race to level up the attacks, Kashima Antlers signed Arthur Caíke. The winger has won six trophies in Brazil and could be the key piece to move Kashima from 5th place into the AFC Champions League places.
Kawasaki Frontale needed to strengthen their midfield, with Hidemasa Morita leaving for Santa Clara in Portugal, and they were able to do that and weaken a rival by signing João Schmidt away from Nagoya Grampus.
Meanwhile, Avispa Fukoka secured a key part of their defense, completing a permanent transfer for Emil Salomonsson, who spent last season on loan at the club from Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
The biggest departure thus far is unquestionably 2020 J.LEAGUE MVP Michael Olunga, who left Kashiwa Reysol for Al-Duhail SC in Qatar. Mitsuki Saito is also on the way out, with the precocious attacker joining Rubin Kazan in Russia on loan from Shonan Bellmare.
With the January transfer window not even halfway through, this is only just the beginning. There are surely more moves to come as clubs jockey to set themselves up for J.LEAGUE glory in 2021.