Club: Stade Reims
Position: Left Winger
Secondary Position: Center Forward
Preferred Foot: Right
Height: 5’9 ft/1,80 m
After last summer’s arrival of Junya Ito from Genk for €10 million, the latest Japanese forward to make the move to Stade de Reims is Keito Nakamura, joining from Austrian club LASK Linz for €12 million and penning a five-year contract at the Ligue 1 club. But just what makes Nakamura such a special talent, and after Boulaye Dia, Axel Disasi and Folarin Balogun, could he become the latest player to enjoy a breakout season at the Stade Auguste-Delaune?
Nakamura’s best trait is by far his dribbling which is why this player has such a valuable upside. Nakamura is always in control of the ball and uses his extreme control plus speed to leave defenders in the dust. He is also extremely agile, which allows him to change direction and often exploit the defense. Nakamura uses lots of fakes, many of which he doesn’t even move the ball, but uses his movements to fake out defenders.
He is an extremely composed finisher with either of his feet. The primarily right-footed player is extremely composed in the box and doesn’t appear to ever be rushed when shooting. He is able to maneuver freely in the box until he is able to get off a clear shot. No matter how many defenders stand in front of him, Nakamura gets to his place with his extremely gifted dribbling ability and then has a composed finish into the net.
The 23-year-old also excels at cutting in from the left wing and curling a right-footed shot into the top corner. Last season with LASK, Nakamura managed to bag 14 goals in 31 appearances. These goals came from a variety of positions but were all due to his extreme composure.
In addition to his 14 goals last season, he also assisted his teammates 4 times. Playmaking is definitely an area of improvement for Nakamura who should be more deadly at setting his teammates up for goal-scoring opportunities. For someone who likes to receive the ball in the center of the field, he needs to improve his ability to find the striker through on goal with dangerous passes. Nakamura is able to attract the attention of multiple defenders due to the danger he possesses when dribbling so if he is also able to be a clinical passer no defense will be able to contain him.
An underrated facet of the game, Nakamura is extremely smart at timing his run and making sure he is in an open position to receive the ball. His darting runs into the box make him extremely hard to mark on crosses.
Whilst he may not replace Folarin Balogun’s 21 goals, Keito Nakamura is a versatile winger who will put tons of pressure on the opposition’s defense and create a number of goal-scoring chances, and he’s already getting chances to impress under Will Still. After coming off the bench for fellow new signing Reda Khadra for the final 38 minutes of their 2-1 defeat to Marseille, Nakamura played an hour before being replaced by new signing Mohamed Daramy, who made his Ligue 1 debut following his €12 million move from Ajax and scored in the 84th minute to secure a 2-0 win against Clermont Foot.
It remains to be seen whether or not Nakamura can consolidate a starting spot as he has the tendency to crowd the center of the pitch when cutting inside, but the Stade Auguste-Delaune is nevertheless an ideal place for him to hone his talents in a low-pressure environment and make a name for himself in a top five league. Reims also lack an attacking presence from the left back role which made Nakamura and LASK so dangerous was the ability for the outside back to overlap when he received the ball in the central areas, and he could be a potential option at the left back position and slot in if Manchester City loanee Josh Wilson-Esbrand is unavailable.
After finishing 11th under Will Still, Reims look set to build on their impressive campaign and make a serious push in Ligue 1, and alongside Teddy Teuma, Mohamed Daramy, Amine Salama, Joseph Okumu, and more, Nakamura is yet another new arrival who will be looking to play a key role for Les Rouges et Blancs this season.
By: Jackson Maynard / @JacksonMaynar17
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Etsuo Hara – Getty Images