SEA Players Who Could Move to the J.League

In recent seasons, the J.League has embraced the possibility of scouting and fielding talent from Southeast Asia, allowing players from the region to reach a higher level. Thai internationals Chanathip Songkrasin and Theerathon Bunmathan are currently plying their trade in the Japanese top flight, and showing themselves as valuable players for their clubs.

Their success has prompted clubs to look more carefully at Southeast Asia as the potential source of more future stars. Today, we take a look at some players who could be making their own moves to the J.League soon.


Name: Kevin Deeromram

Club: Port FC

There are a few Thai players out there who are ready or at least have the potential to make the J League step up. However, how much the Thai club value the player themselves can also make things extremely complicated. Hence, the right player must be good enough at this current time, but also possess the potential to improve and young enough to have reasonable resale value, thus minimizing the overall risk of the deal.

Port FC's left-back Kevin Deeromram fits that mould perfectly. The 21-year-old has represented the Swedish national team and Bundesliga side Werder Bremen at youth level, thus you can be sure he came from a footballing background. He was a big hit when he signed for Thai League side Ratchaburi FC in 2017 and even featured for the Thai senior team (although only once).

Unfortunately, Kevin's overall development has slightly stagnated since moving to Port FC, mainly due to niggling injuries, and the club was forced to sign Filipino international Martin Steuble as their backup fullback whenever Kevin is on the sideline. He hasn't started many games this season so it should (ideally) be easier for J League teams to negotiate Kevin's the transfer fee. Plus, with Steuble already playing so well, Port FC should also be more willing to let Kevin go if a fair offer comes up. Lightning quick, a great crosser and comfortable anywhere on the left flank. Kevin is the modern attacking fullback any team could use in their side.


Name: Dedik Setiawan

Club: Arema FC

Not many Liga 1 players are able enough to J-League level so far. But it's never too late for several gems like Evan Dimas (CM/Barito Putera/24 years old) or Osvaldo Haay (LW/Persebaya Surabaya/22 years old). Evan was a new general in Indonesian midfielder who once trained in Barcelona, and Osvaldo, the young player of the year last season, also had a trial in Numancia earlier this year.

But, on current form, Dedik Setiawan (ST/Arema FC/25 years old) looks like a promising talent so far. Dedik so far has scored six goals become the best local striker, battling against foreign players ahead like Alex Goncalves (10 goals for Persela Lamongan) or Ciro Alves (9 goals for TIRA-Persikabo) for the Golden Boot. 

Dedik even better than Indonesian naturalized strikers like Beto Goncalves of Madura United, Ilija Spasojevic of Bali United or Osas Saha of TIRA-Persikabo. As a result, he has earned the trust of national team coach Simon McMenemy, playing with the Gaurda in several recent friendly matches. 

Dedik is a special player like Thomas Mueller of Bayern Munich, he’s a raumdeuter or “space interpreter” more than an inside forward or inverted winger in the 4-3-3 scheme usually used by Arema and the national team. He’s fast and has positioning. He can even down the wings and create for his teammates from wide positions. 

Japanese football is the highest standard in Asia, and Dedik should make the step up to this league as his game is not very common in Indonesia, and looks more like a European player. Signing for a J-League clubs even open his opportunity to play in Europe before turning 30.


Name: Safawi Rasid

Club: Johor Darul Ta'zim

Safawi Rasid is a rising young player right now. He has been a key player for Johor Darul Ta'zim since joining the club in 2017.

Here are some reasons why he should immigrate to Japan.

'Arjen Robben Malaysia' - Safawi has a style similar to Dutch legend Arjen Robben. His has an ability to control the ball with his left foot while dribble two or three opponents. He also cuts inside on his left foot to move to a more central attacking position.

Accurate delivery - Safawi's ability to send the ball right into the penalty box has made him one of the most important winger Malaysia has ever seen. His ability to get to the byline and deliver accurate crosses instills fear into any defense.

Ability to dribble - Safawi is able to read the opponent's movements accurately. This allows him to beat players with ease and create space. His speed and creativity cause opponents to foul him because they can't stop him. 


Name: Nguyen Van Toan

Club: Hoang Anh Gia Lai

Van Toan has demonstrates his ability as one of the finest players in Vietnam in the 2019 V.League campaign. He has been the key man of Hoang Anh Gia Lai with 7 goals after 18 matches. His speed and dribbling skill is one of the best in the league. As a 1996 born player, he is one of four "precious boys" of Doan Nguyen Duc, the chairman of Hoang Anh Gia Lai. The other three, Xuan Truong, Tuan Anh, Cong Phuong, have all had the chance to play abroad, and Van Toan is likely to follow his teammate step to play outside Vietnam and J.League could be the right choice for him.