Wanderers sign Japanese midfielder Jumpei Kusukami

Jumpei Kusukami during the AFC Champions League Group E match between Cerezo Osaka and Pohang Steelers at Nagai Stadium on April 16, 2014 in Osaka, Japan. Source: Getty Images

Western Sydney Wanderers will resume their connection with Japan this season after signing attacking midfielder Jumpei Kusukami.

The 28 year-old is thought to have penned a one year-deal with Wanderers, where he will occupy the designated Asian player slot for next season’s Asian Champions League tilt.

On Wednesday, sources informed The World Game that the deal was all but complete and that the player would soon be confirmed by last season’s runners-up, who have already signed Spanish defender Aritz Borda and Uruguyan holding midfielder Bruno Pinatares.

The Wanderers have undertaken an exhaustive search to find an Asian player to complete their roster, although Kusukami is by no means assured a spot in the starting side.

He will have a battle to prove his fitness, having barely been sighted in 2016 - playing just 31 minutes in a single league game for his current club, Sagan Tosu.

But having lost all-time leading scorer Mark Bridge to Thai Premier League club Chiangrai United, Kusukami looks a likely choice to fill that role on the left side of attacking midfield.

Kusukami has also enjoyed extended stints at two of Japan’s most storied clubs: Kawasaki Frontale, where he made his career breakthrough, before crossing to Cerezo Osaka.

The midfielder had his best season in 2012, scoring five goals in 28 games for Kawasaki, which led to the Osaka club signing him for the next three seasons.

He struggled to have the same impact at the Kincho Stadium and was part of the Cerezo side that was surprisingly relegated in 2014 and still remains in the second tier.

Upon being released in December last year, the Doshisha University product admitted he was “really sorry that I couldn’t produce good results.”

Kusukami then moved to the J-League this season with Sagan Tosu but has not been a regular part of the senior team in the first half of the year, adding three Nabisco Cup matches to his sole league appearance.

He will be the fourth Japanese player to set foot at Wanderland, following in the footsteps of the club’s original marquee, Shinji Ono, and then Yojiro Takahagi and defender Yusuke Tanaka.