When this week started, surprising news came out: Hotaru Yamaguchi is set to make a return to Cerezo Osaka after spending only a few months in Germany. The club, and now the player himself, admit it.
Yamaguchi, a Japan international and former Cerezo Osaka captain, announced a move to Hannover 96 in December last year. Perhaps unfortunately for the 25 year old midfielder, on the same day of the announcement, the then manager was sacked and replaced by Thomas Schaaf. What was more unfortunate was that, after making only 6 appearances in Germany, he got serious injury in a game against Syria in March. Since then, he has worked on recovery in Japan and recently been seen at Cerezo’s Maishima training ground.
【20160610】 蛍。其の壱。 金髪きれかった。 pic.twitter.com/g1hbiHO6ss— 睦蒼-toa- (@toa1045) 2016年6月10日
According to Kicker, his agent flew to Japan last week to ask him whether he wants to stay at the relegated club or move to other one. Probably as a result of the talk, Yamaguchi made up his mind to get back to Japan and told Cerezo his intention. Club president Minoru Tamada said that he actually wants him to continue his career in Europe, but if he wants to come back, the club will try their best to fulfill his wish.
Yamaguchi publicly spoke of his decision for the first time yesterday. He said the injury “isn’t a reason. There’s something I realized only after I moved (to foreign club),” although what he realized is uncertain at the moment.
According to Sports Hochi, Cerezo manager Kiyoshi Okuma believes his transfer from Hannover 96 will be decided “within a week.” Sports Nippon also wrote that the negotiations between the clubs have advanced and it is likely to be announced “in the coming days.”
There are various sorts of reactions on the Twitterverse. Even among Cerezo supporters, there must be mixed feelings. On the one hand, definitely, without a doubt, it’s too early to come back. The departure of Japanese players from Hannover 96, including his good friend Hiroshi Kiyotake’s joining Sevilla, may consist of a part of the motives for his decision, but if so, it is equally disappointing. On the other hand, Yamaguchi is an academy-grown player, a former captain, and a supporters’ favorite. His reunion with players like Yoichiro Kakitani would be seen as very attractive for many supporters.