Japanese players "must get out of Italy"

According to Yo Takatsuki, a producer for the BBC in London, the number 613 is is the reason why the three Japanese players in Serie A "must get out of Italy as soon as possible." Writing for the Asahi Shimbun, he explained that 613 is "the total number of minutes Messina's Mitsuo Ogasawara, Torino's Masashi Oguro and Catania's Takayuki Morimoto have mustered collectively in a Serie A season that is almost finished." It obviously says a transfer to Italy is a disastrous career choice for Japanese footballers, he argued.

"No matter how much they highlight the training educational value of being at a club in one of the world's toughest leagues, if they are not playing in matches, they might as well be not there at all. It's not like these three didn't know what they were getting themselves into. There's lots of precedence. Take Atsushi Yanagisawa. An effective forward for the Kashima Antlers, he bombed at Sampdoria. His second season, at Messina, was terrible and he came back to Japan having not scored a single goal ... Even the supremely talented Shunsuke Nakamura struggled in Italy ... The only Japanese player to succeed in Serie A has been Hidetoshi Nakata, and his success was marginal ...

"There are reasons why Japanese players fail in Italy. Many point to the physical nature of the game and the high standard of play. However, it is more to do with the extremely strategic nature of the game played in Italy. Most coaches quickly give up on Japanese players, tiring of their failure to understand and carry out complex tactical instructions. The language barrier is naturally the reason for it.

What's more, the Serie A is not what it used to be. Fifteen years ago, Italy was home to the best football league in the world. Since then, it's been overtaken by the English Premier League and Spain's La Liga," he warned.