Jun Nishikawa 2020 – scout report
The 18-year-old is currently situated in the scopes of some of Europe’s biggest names. RB Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen and AC Milan are all touted to have an interest. Meanwhile, Spanish gargantuan Barcelona have been in pursuit of the Japanese national for several months.
While little is known about the attacking midfielder, who can also play on the right-wing and as centre-forward, due to only a handful of senior appearances; a deep delve into match footage of Japan academy sides and his talents become evident.
So, this tactical analysis will highlight three strengths to the starlet’s play and explain what advantage they can be to various tactics. The scout report will also use analysis to explain how Jun Nishikawa can improve his game.
Impressive aggression levels
One key attribute that can often be overlooked which can prove vital tactically is impressive levels of aggression. Playing as an attacking midfielder, right-winger or centre-forward, it is likely that Nishikawa will often be tasked with playing a vital role in the press of his side. For a press to be effective, amongst other things the players must have a strong level of determination and aggression to regain possession.
In this annotation, an example of Jun Nishikawa’s aggression can be seen. The example is taken from an Under-20s game for Japan against South Korea at the Under-20 World Cup in 2019. With Japan’s attackers looking to box in the defenders in possession, Nishikawa aggressively and quickly closes down the ball carrier and forces a pass backwards. The 18-year-old midfielder continues to press and forces the defender to play the ball long which turns possession back to Japan.
As can be seen in this map of duels against South Korea Under-20s – a match which Japan lost 1-0 – despite the 18-year-old playing on the right-wing before being swapped to attacking midfielder, Nishikawa entered duels across the opposition’s half. While he was only successful on only five occasions in the opposition’s half, the sheer number (20) proves that the midfielder is not one to shirk his pressing responsibilities.
Delicate close control
In the area of the pitch that Nishikawa predominantly plays, he will be required to carry the ball for long distances and retain possession when under pressure. Those who are not worth their salt can easily lose possession when under pressure, however, the Japanese midfielder has a superb level of close control which allows him to travel long distances with possession while under pressure, which can give untold advantages in tactical plans.
In this first annotation, Nishikawa’s close control while dribbling can be seen. Having picked up possession in a youth team match near the halfway line, Jun Nishikawa is able to travel with the ball, evade the challenge of four defending players and cap the move off by scoring a goal. As stated, this dribbling ability and close control can prove vital tactically as it can provide multiple options.
In this instance, another example of the 18-year-old’s close control can be seen. Again, in the Under-20s clash with South Korea, Nishikawa is not travelling with the ball but has found himself under pressure from three defenders. Despite the challenges, the Cerezo Osaka player is able to keep the ball at his feet before playing the ball off a defender and win his side a corner.
Impeccable weight of pass
Along with the ability to dribble and have strong close control, the ability of a high level of precision to passing is another essential for a player of Jun Nishikawa’s position. Yet again, this is another area where the 18-year-old excels, and this seems likely a key reason why top European clubs – including Barcelona – could be interested in acquiring the Japanese national’s services.
Here, in a 3-0 victory for Japan Under-17s against the Netherlands – in which Nishikawa bagged two assists and a goal – the impressive wight of the youngster’s passing was on show. One would imagine that the through ball is a staple of an attacking midfielder and the 18-year-old proved why here.
With three defenders ahead and one to the right of him, Nishikawa is able to thread a perfectly weighted through ball into the feet of the striker at the correct pace to match his run. With ample time and space due to the weight of the pass, the striker is able to score and bag Nishikawa an assist.
Here, another instance of Jun Nishikawa’s weight of pass can be seen, however, this time over a much greater distance. If the 18-year-old’s passing was to be comparable to both a Barcelona and a J1 League example, it is similar to that of Andres Iniesta in that passes often are perfectly weighted and find the feet of teammates.
In this instance, though, Nishikawa has spotted the forward run of the striker which he has already assisted once. The Japanese 18-year-old is then able to perfectly judge the run of the forward and fire a long pass beyond one defender and into feet without his teammate breaking stride, as can be seen below.
Slow to release the ball
While Nishikawa is certainly an impressive talent and without doubt one for the future, he does have a key drawback to his game which he must improve upon if he is to one day make it into the footballing elite. While his weight of passing and vision are already almost at the very top standard, he is sometimes culpable of clinging onto possession for too long and perhaps trusting of his dribbling abilities too much.
Here, back in the game against the Netherlands’ Under-17s, Nishikawa has already recovered possession exceptionally well in the opposition’s half and now has two superb passing options – marked by the white arrows.
The forward pass is tricky, but a previous annotation has proven he is capable and the pass to the right could be equally as positive. However, Nishikawa does not release the ball and continues to dribble, the defending player who is recovering is then able to dispossess the Japanese midfielder as he holds onto possession for too long.
Here, a similar example can be seen against South Korea Under-20s. Having done well to hold onto possession in the opposition’s half, Nishikawa has two passing options – marked by the white arrows – to maintain possession and play the ball into feet. However, the attacking midfielder continues to dribble and runs into trouble before being dispossessed.
As previously stated, this is a key flaw to Jun Nishikawa’s game and if he does make the move to one of the big-name clubs in Europe that are after his signature, the 18-year-old will have to put work into this side of his game.
After just one evening of research into Jun Nishikawa, his talents have become immediately clear prior to writing this scout report. The 18-year-old has all of the raw materials to become an Iniesta-type player and perhaps that is why Barcelona are a suitor for the midfielder.
With RB Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen and AC Milan also touted to be interested, though, it seems that this youngster could have a big future ahead of him even if it is not at the Camp Nou. However, for now, Nishikawa may be best served getting some first-team appearances for Cerezo Osaka under his belt.
This tactical analysis has highlighted three key strengths to Jun Nishikawa’s game and explained how they could be useful in tactics. The scout report has also used analysis to explain a key weakness of the Japanese 18-year-old and how he must improve.