Aston Villa have announced a strategic partnership with J-League side Vissel Kobe in a landmark deal between the teams. Villa, managed by Unai Emery, see the deal as an opportunity to further strengthen their international network and player development pipeline.
In a statement released on Thursday morning, Villa confirmed the partnership.
“As part of this exciting step forward for both clubs, Villa and Vissel Kobe will work to create a bilateral development framework for players and staff which will enhance youth development, alongside the cooperative sharing of ideas, techniques and best practice. The partnership will look to further open up pathways for talented Japanese players to play in Europe and, ultimately, at Aston Villa.
“This synergy between the clubs will also extend to first team level, with the exchange of technical knowledge and coaching methodology together with collaboration in the areas of performance, scouting & recruitment, data analysis and overall squad management.”
This move, which is quite unprecedented for an English team, could have an impact upon Celtic’s transfer plans. The arrival of Ange Postecoglou from Yokohama F Marinos resulted in a recalibration of Celtic’s transfer plans, with the Asian market considered.
Celtic have had real success from the J-League market, signing Reo Hatate, Kyogo, Daizen Maeda, Tomoki Iwata, Ideguchi and Yuki Kobayashi. Some of these signings, made by Ange, have made sensational impacts in Scottish football and have been tipped with moves to England. Not to mention, their compatriot Mitoma at Brighton, who has been hugely impressive.
Ange’s own impact on English football has also renewed a focus on the Japanese game as being a ground rife with talent. Ange was working within a team that The City Football Group had a share in but never really pushed any further. Villa, however, are a different proposition altogether. The Birmingham club will see the opportunity to grow in this market and pinch the top talent from the league by utilising the local scouting network. For example, had this deal happened in 2021, you’d imagine Kyogo would have appeared as one of their players.
Ultimately, the new visibility of the J-League and their product will drive prices up. In doing so, the ability to take a punt on a player that has the raw materials to kick on and make an impact will reduce.
Celtic had seemed to look at the K-League as an opportunity to replicate their success in Japan; however, thus far, Kwon, Yang and Oh are yet to do this – but there are promising signs there.