Land of the rising sun
Portimonense celebrated with exciting forward Shoya Nakajima as the 23-year-old received his first full cap for Japan during the international break.
Nakajima came off the bench during the second half with his team trailing 1-0 to Mali in Belgium, but soon demonstrated his worth when volleying home a return pass from close range to establish the final 1-1 score line. Having scored on his debut, Nakajima could well have earned a starting place against the Ukraine in Liege last Tuesday en route to this summer’s World Cup in Russia.
Portimonense secured the services of ‘the little giant’, as Nakajima is affectionately known, on loan from FC Tokyo at the beginning of the season and have since acquired his full transfer rights.
Consistently outstanding performances for the Algarveans have not only attracted the attention of his country but have also brought any number of club scouts representing the likes of Benfica, Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Napoli, Manchester United and, most recently, Galatasaray to Portimão.
In view of such interest, the club have doubled the player’s release clause from €10 million to €20 million, a sum which, if met, would easily dwarf the record amounts of €2.5 million and €5 million due from this winter’s Lumor and Paulinho transfers to Sporting and Porto, respectively.
For now, it is hoped that Nakajima will return fit and healthy for this Saturday afternoon’s home match against Moreirense for which Jadson, Fabrício and Tabata are all doubtful starters.
A victory should all but secure Portimonense’s primary objective of the season, continued top division football in 2018/19.
By SKIP BANDELE