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Takuma Asano is one of four Japanese players to find out today he won’t be part of their final World Cup squad this summer.
Earlier this month, Japan named Asano alongside 26 others in their preliminary squad, boosting the Arsenal man’s chances of travelling to the tournament.
Only 23 players can make the final squad though, and coach Akira Nishino decided to opt for experience on Thursday, dropping the 23-year-old.
Yosuke Ideguchi, Kenta Misao and Toshihiro Aoyama are the other three players from the preliminary squad to miss out. Aoyama withdrew over injury concerns, but Nishino explained why he dropped the other three in a press conference.
“All three are incredibly promising and they contributed a lot to get us to this point,” he said. “But in considering their top performance level I wasn’t able to include them. I think they will carry Japan in the future.”
In all honesty, with the season Asano had at club level, it was surprising to see him included in the first place. The forward had a pretty terrible time with Stuttgart this year.
He made 18 appearances for the first team in 2017/18, the last of which came in December 2017. He scored one goal and provided one assist in total, and only made the squad four times in 2018.
Dropping down to the Stuttgart second team, he scored once and assisted once in two appearances. It wasn’t enough to get him another first team opportunity though. Hopefully he can push on next season and get back into contention with his country.