Takashi Usami’s move to one of the most talented teams in Europe has been a good learning experience for the teenaged Japanese midfielder. What it hasn’t provided, however, is a lot of valuable playing time.
Bayern Munich midfielder Usami, who moved to Germany to join the European powerhouse last July at the age of 19, remains determined to polish his skills in one of Europe’s top leagues, despite having played in just three Bundesliga matches this season.
Local media reports have hinted that Usami may be transferred to another team, but the player hasn’t let those reports discourage him. One Bundesliga club, Hockenheim, has already put in an offer for his services.
This is perhaps the first time in Usami’s life that he hasn’t been able to secure his spot as a regular. He first impressed his coaches while training with the lower-tiered teams in the Gamba Osaka system, and he was constantly selected to represent Japan at every age level. Usami usually served as a centerpiece of those age-level national teams. Even when he moved up to the top-tiered J.League team with Gamba, he immediately nabbed a position as a regular.
But with Bayern, Usami is competing for playing time with offensive midfielders Arjen Robben, a Dutch national team member, and France international Franck Ribery, who have dominated the position. Even German national team member Thomas Muller hasn’t been able to secure a steady hold over the position. With a strong Bayern lineup like that, it’s no wonder Usami has had little chance to gain playing time.
Usami finally got a chance to start in consecutive games during the last leg of the season, when Bayern’s chances of winning the league title began to wane. But he wasn’t able to show off his signature offensive play and was often busy defending instead. Contract-wise, Usami finds himself in a position where he has to take advantage of every little opportunity to produce results, and he admits that has been a struggle.
Usami calls the difficult season “a wall (to overcome) and not a failure.” He says he got to train with the world’s best players and learn what skills he’s lacking.
“It’s important to get experience through playing time in matches, but it was my choice to jump into this kind of environment,” he says.
Usami joined Bayern Munich on a one-year loan deal, and it is looking more and more unlikely that he will remain with the team next season. Still, he hasn’t lost his confidence or his ambition.
“I feel like I’m using Bayern as a step to advance my career,” he says. “I hope to play in the Bundesliga next year, too.”
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