This series looks at youngsters who could be stars of Tokyo Olympics this summer. This time, we look at midfielders.

Kawasaki Frontale’s Ao Tanaka had a breakthrough season last year (his third after signing a professional contract) and was voted the Best Young Player in J.League. His passing ability is supported by his excellent skill and vision, and he rarely loses possession. Tanaka is a defensive midfielder, able to play multiple roles, as seen in his strong defending in the midfield and accurate long shots.

Shonan Bellmare’s Mizuki Saito is a defensive midfielder with great work rate. He is only 166 cm-tall but covers a vast area of the pitch and can aggressively snatch the ball, even from large opponents. His quick transition through accurate passes helps the team move forward, and his leadership skill was proven as he was the captain of U-20 Japan at last year’s World Cup.

Yokohama F.Marinos’ Keita Endo is a winger who boasts excellent dribbling skills. Once he receives the ball, he carries it without hesitation, often overwhelming his opponents. After consistently earning game-time since his rookie year, he had a breakthrough in 2019, recording seven goals and seven assists in 33 appearances. After helping his team lift the trophy, he is aiming for ten goals and ten assists this season.