Jun Amano is in his second year in the K League. He came up through the Yokohama F,Marinos academy and signed a professional contract in 2014. After playing in Yokohama, he was loaned to KSC Loceren (Belgium) in the summer of 2019.
After a brief one-year trial, Amano returned to the K League last year on loan to Ulsan Hyundai, where he helped lead the club to its first league title in 17 years under head coach Hong Myung-bo. In the league, he led the team’s offense with nine goals, one assist, and double-digit offensive points in 30 games.
With his creative passing from the second line and ability to hit the penalty box himself, Amano seemed to be on the right track with Ulsan once again. After his one-year loan came to an end, his destination was surprisingly Ulsan’s rival Jeonbuk. In the opening round of the 2023 season, Amano was booed at Munsusu Stadium in Ulsan.
Amano, who is coming off a particularly injury-riddled 2023 season, will face a growing number of Japanese teammates in the K League. Ataru Esaka (Ulsan), Keita Suzuki (Daegu), Masatoshi Ishida (Daejeon), who was promoted from K League 2, and Kazuki Kozuka (Suwon Samsung), who arrived in Korea over the summer.
Kazuki made his professional debut with Alex Niigata in 2013, before moving on to Banfore Kofu and Oita Trinita before joining 2021 powerhouse Kawasaki Frontale. In his two and a half seasons with Kawasaki, he didn’t play many games. His most league appearances were 12 in the J1 League in 2022.
Kazuki has the most appearances for lower league Renopa Yamaguchi, the club he was loaned to while at Niigata, with 14 goals and 17 assists in 70 J2 games and two goals and eight assists in 65 J1 games. In the 2023 season, he appeared in just five J1 League games for Kawasaki before being spotted by head coach Kim Byung-soo and signed in the summer. He showed off his talent at Suwon.
In particular, Kazuki’s performance was a huge boost for Suwon, who were languishing at the bottom of the table. Utilized as a third midfielder, he is the starting point of the offense. With his accurate kicks and wide vision, he transformed Suwon’s offense.
Most importantly, he was handpicked by head coach Kim Byung-soo, who emphasizes passing and numerical superiority, and Kazuki quickly became the centerpiece of Suwon’s football. He played six league games soon after his arrival and recorded his first offensive point in the 26th round against Jeonbuk, assisting on Han Ho-gang’s goal. 안전놀이터
“I think Ataru, Masa, and Kazuki are technically excellent players and can be competitive in the K-League,” said Amano of Kazuki’s 10 minutes as a second-half substitute in Suwon. “As more Japanese players come to the K-League, the strengths of the J-League and the K-League will be fused, giving the K-League a chance to move up a level.”
“Honestly, I’m not playing as well as I did last year. Of course, I’m stimulated by the fact that Masa and Kazuki are playing, and I’m even happier.” “Kazuki was also a player who was technically well-regarded in Japan, and such players will be able to come to the K League.