Nakamura mulls Spain future

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Nakamura mulls Spain future

TOKYO - Japan’s midfield dynamo Shunsuke Nakamura, struggling to earn playing time at Espanyol, says he plans some soul-searching after missing two straight La Liga matches, Japanese media reported Tuesday.

Espanyol beat Almeria 2-0 at home on Sunday when manager Mauricio Pochettino used three midfield substitutes, but not the 31-year-old Japanese dead-ball specialist who joined the Barcelona outfit from Celtic in June.

“It feels great to win,” Nakamura told Japanese media after Espanyol ended a five-game losing streak. But he added: “After seeing the substitutions ... I feel compelled to think about many things.” He did not elaborate but Japanese sports dailies took his comment as a hint of his readiness to ponder his future with Espanyol. The left-footer has yet to score a goal in 10 La Liga matches, and has not made the starting lineup since playing in the 4-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid on Nov. 29.

Japan coach Takeshi Okada, who counts on Nakamura for his distribution and scoring ability, has expressed full confidence in him. Okada said last week that Nakamura’s decision to move to Spain ahead of the World Cup had reflected a “challenging spirit” and would have a positive effect on his career.

“In this sense, I believe he will definitely remain an essential player for Japan’s national team although he has limited chances to play in matches at present,” the coach said.

But Frenchman Philippe Troussier, who led Japan to an unprecedented last-16 spot in the 2002 World Cup on home turf, said this month that Okada should not take Nakamura for granted as a midfield lynchpin but stimulate competition for starting places. AFP

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