Shinji Okazaki

Shinji Okazaki
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Shinji Okazaki

Current Club: Leicester City.

Previous Clubs: 1.FSV Mainz 05, VfB Stuttgart, Shimizu S-Pulse, Takigawa HS.

Loan Clubs: None.

International: Japan 109 caps 50 goals.

Despite being Japan's 3rd highest scorer of all-time and the highest scoring Japanese player in the Bundesliga, Okazaki has not been prolific since signing for the Foxes. Last season he scored just 6 goals in 41 matches and even in Leicester's title-winning season he only contributed 6 goals in 39 matches. Not exactly what you call a goal sniffer then.

That is only a tiny part of what Okazaki adds to a team though, despite playing in a forward position. His incredible work rate is key to the team. Okazaki is that rare forward that adds something to the performance whether the team is in possession of the football or not. When the team loses possession, Okazaki will chase back, left, right, forward trying to win back the ball or covering gaps left by other players who have gone forward.

It is not a mindless, headless chicken running about, it is always with a purpose, other than just running after the ball, though there he often gets to do just that when there are no gaps behind or breaks to cover. When the team are set in position behind him, Okazaki does chase round all over the pitch harrying the opposition midfield and defence, following the ball and putting pressure on. He is almost a full on press all by himself at times, which probably explains why he very rarely plays a full 90 minutes.

When the Foxes have control of the ball, Okazaki is constantly on the move, trying to drag the opposition around, making selfless runs to open up space for team mates or himself when the opportunity presents. It is little wonder that opponents always seem to concede late goals after facing him, as the defence must be worn out trying to keep an eye on him. Even just watching him play, buzzing around like somebody's hyperactive child on speed, is exhausting.

Technically, Okazaki is quite a skilful player, with a very good technique, which he has shown with some very nice technical goals throughout his career. Being short and not having much of a leap on him, he is not the best in the air, to say the least. He is a tidy player with a nice touch and looks to play it on quickly and to move himself into space again afterwards. If he could add a little more selfishness to his play, he would score more goals, but be half as important to the team.