Here comes the biggest surprise. Sint-Truidense V.V. left fullback Yuta Koike, who played at Kashima Antlers on loan last season, has joined Cerezo Osaka on a permanent deal, the club announced today.
Yuta Koike is one of a few players who entered into the world of European football directly from that of nonprofessional one. Koike took a break from university and joined the Belgian side in 2018 after experiencing professional football as a specially-designated player for Kashima Antlers.
But unfortunately he wasn’t able to get a playing time in Belgium, so he chose to return to Kashima Antlers on loan from STVV last year. He got 21 appearances and 2 goals in total last season. Most famously, he scored a spectacular goal from the left flank worthy of the best goal of the season in July.
It was obvious that Cerezo Osaka needed to acquire a left fullback after Kakeru Funaki left for Jubilo Iwata on loan. While there had been no rumor about it, I was actually expecting Koike to join Cerezo because STVV didn’t announce his comeback even after Kashima announced his departure and there was no other good fullback available in the market, but never thought it would be a permanent one even if realized.
Cerezo have Yusuke Maruhashi who has always been the first choice left fullback for about a decade, but he will turn 30 in September this year. Of course there has been Kakeru Funaki who has received expectations to replace him someday, but he is still yet to threaten him (so releasing him on loan was a good option). The signing of Koike means finally some competition is introduced in the position.
I will do my best to contribute to Cerezo Osaka’s victory. Let’s definitely win the title,” Koike commented on the official website as well as on Twitter.
完全移籍でセレッソ大阪に加入する事になりました。セレッソ大阪の勝利に貢献出来るように頑張ります。応援よろしくお願いします。 pic.twitter.com/OzELEllSgI— 小池裕太/yuta koike (@yk_rku) January 11, 2020