Japanese Players In The Premier League

newsonjapan.com -- Oct 12
There is absolutely no doubt that the English Premier League is a competition that opens its doors to the world and with the very best footballers playing in the league with the biggest global audience, it is one that sees national representation from many different quarters.

Whether it be the best that South America has to offer or the cream of the European crop, the Premier League has played home to them all and of course, it has also welcomed some of the best Asian talent at the same time.

While with the competition being such a global phenomenon, it attracts a considerable amount of interest when it comes to betting and sportsbooks such as Intertops, offer a vast range of markets for fans to place a wager each weekend.

Not only that, but it has also given a home to some of the best Japanese footballers of the past generation and in this article, we are going to look back at some of the men who have played a part in the Premier League’s rich and illustrious history.

Junichi Inamoto

The first of the Japanese wave to enter the Premier League was Junichi Inamoto and although cynics would say that Arsenal only purchased him in a bid to sell merchandise in the Far East, the midfielder was certainly worth more than just shirt sales alone.

There was no doubt that Inamoto possessed the talent during his time in North London, although unfortunately for him so did many others and with him being surplus to requirements, he shone brighter during additional loan spells at both Fulham and West Brom.

Kazuyuki Toda

There is always a sense that anything Arsenal do, Tottenham have to do as well and with Junichi Inamoto being the first Japanese player to play for the Gunners, Kazuyuki Toda was the first to play for their arch rivals.

Of course, Toda’s move to England was one that was largely forgettable and with Tottenham consigned to mid-table malaise in the early 2000’s, the defender would have very little impact during his time in the English capital.

Takehiro Tomiyasu

While if Inamoto was the first Japanese player to represent Arsenal nearly two decades ago, our next player in the list is someone who brings us to present times and representing the nation in this day and age is Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Signed from Serie A outfit Bologna, Tomiyasu can play either in the centre or right side of defence and after impressing against Tottenham in the recent North London derby, he has already endeared himself to fans of the Gunners.

Ryo Miyaichi

If Inamoto was the first and Tomiyasu the present, then there is one player who bridges the two in terms of Arsenal’s Japanese representation and the man who sits in the middle of the trio, is none other than Ryo Miyaichi.

Not necessarily a household name, Miyachi was a player who could certainly handle himself within the confines of English football and with spells at Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic during his career, he was certainly a cult hero at both North of England outfits.

Hidetoshi Nakata

Arguably the most high-profile of all the Japanese players to have ever played at least a minute in the Premier League, Hidetoshi Nakata was another footballer who at one point called the Reebok Stadium home.

A stadium that welcomed Bolton Wanderers every fortnight and with manager Sam Allardyce known for assembling aging talents from around the world, Nakata joined the likes of Fernando Hierro and Jay-Jay Okocha in their bid to upset some of the league’s biggest clubs on a regular basis.

Shinji Kagawa

When it comes to Japanese talents to have graced the Premier League, many will think of one man and one man only and after making the move from German giants Borussia Dortmund, Shinji Kagawa then had the honour of playing for Manchester United.

With Kagawa being one of the last major signings that the legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson would make, the midfielder would help the club win the Premier League and the Community Shield in 2013.

Takumi Minamino

After impressing while playing against Liverpool in a Champions League clash for Red Bull Salzburg, Takumi Minamino was snapped up as soon the next transfer window was open and with the forward still at the club, many are waiting for his time to truly shine.

Admittedly with a front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, minutes have been hard to find for Minamino and arguably his best Premier League input has come during last season’s loan spell at Southampton.

Maya Yoshida

While on the topic of Southampton, they are not without their own form of Japanese representation either and in defender Maya Yoshida, they had someone who gave their all for the Saints between 2012 and 2020.

Known as a fearsome centre back, Yoshida now plays his football in Italy and after a loan spell with Sampdoria in 2020, his move to Genoa was subsequently made permanent. A move that ended his eight-year stint with the English South Coast club and he is sorely missed by their supporters.