Five Albirex players that could grab S.League clubs’ interest
By this time of the year, most S.League clubs will already be planning for a roster that could help them improve upon their achievements of yesteryear.
It is no secret that the performances of the foreign players in their squad hold the key to each club's’ fortune. Take Balestier Khalsa for example this year.
The Tigers took many by surprise with their fourth-place finish last year, with both Miroslav Kristic and Robert Pericic plundering in the goals for them. This season however, Kristic has struggled for form while Pericic did not play before being released in mid-season due to injuries. As a result, Balestier are now languishing second from bottom in the table.
Therefore, it would be of little surprise if the local S.League clubs decide to go swooping for any of Albirex Niigata's players in the off season. After all, they did have a whole season to take a look at the quality players.
Here, FourFourTwo takes a look at the five players who could possibly be in hot demand once the transfer window reopens.
The current S.League top scorer has reinvented himself as a more direct player and it has paid off for both himself and the club.
In 27 games in all competitions, he has 19 goals, 13 of which came in the league. He also has nine assists to go along with it, which proves that he is equally capable of creating goals as well as scoring it.
It’s a stark improvement from the season before, where he ended with just 11 goals and seven assists in 31 games.
His importance to the White Swans is there for all to see. The 24-year-old has missed just one league game this season, and has started all 21 others whenever he is available. He is also one of the favourites to land the Player of the Year award for this season too.
The forward will certainly be a superb addition to any S.League teams, but whether Albirex will be willing to let him go easily is another story.
The next Atsushi to feature in this list is the 2016’s champions bedrock in defence, centre-back Shirota.
Despite this being his first season, he has fitted in seamlessly alongside Kento Fujihara and helped the White Swans to a league-best defensive record this year.
What’s more surprising is the fact that many believed Albirex might suffer after losing defensive lynchpin Takahiro Saito, but Shirota has not only replaced him, but helped Albirex to be an even more solid defensively.
Additionally, he has also contributed at the attacking end, scoring three times and recording two assists.
Only turning 25 next month, Shirota has got his best years ahead of him. Just like former players Kento Fukuda and Yuki Ichikawa who have moved on to local clubs and solidified their career, Shirota certainly has the potential to do the same.