Utrecht's new Japanese signing Yoshiaki Takagi wants to be the Eredivisie's 'Andres Iniesta'

Goal.com spoke to the 18-year-old Japanese attacker, who has plans to emulate the Barcelona star during his five-year spell with his new Dutch club
Teenage attacking midfielder Yoshiaki Takagi has penned a long-term deal with FC Utrecht and is confident he can make an instant impact in the Eredivisie.

The Yokohama-born 18-year-old, who joins Utrecht from Japanese J2-League club Tokyo Verdy, is aiming to become like Spain's 2010 World Cup star Andres Iniesta.

The Japanese youth international certainly has the pedigree for sporting success, as his father Yutaka is a former professional baseball player in his homeland.

Speaking to Goal.com, Takagi reveals his plans at Utrecht and what he believes he can offer the Eredivisie club.

Goal.com: You are only 18 and you are going to play in one of the greatest football countries in Europe. How do you feel about it?

Yoshiaki Takagi: I was hoping to get the chance to challenge myself overseas as early as possible, so I’m very happy I will play in the country that was the finalist of last year’s World Cup.

Goal.com: Since the supporters in Europe don't know you yet, can you say something about your playing style?

YT: I am comfortable with receiving the ball in the midfield, even if under pressure, turning towards the goal and going for an attacking play. Quick steps and agility are my strong points, which I want to use to make a difference. I will also try to take shots from distance, given the chance.

Goal.com: Is there a player in Europe you like in particular?

YT: Iniesta of Barcelona. He’s not a tall player, and neither am I. But he is one of the best players in the world. He has great dribbling, top passing skills, he can both provide assists and score goals. I want to become like him!

Goal.com: There are four Japanese players in the Eredivisie. Have you talked with them recently? Did they give you some advice?

YT: I talked with [Ryo] Miyaichi of Feyenoord on the phone. I told him that my transfer to the Netherlands was decided and asked him about life down there.

'The people and your teammates will welcome you if you are able to display your ability, it doesn't matter that you are Japanese' he said.

Goal.com: You have been in Utrecht for training last winter, what was your impression of the football and the people there?

YT: I played behind the strikers. It was quite easy to play because what I was requested to do was clear: opening the play to the flanks or trying to go directly for goal by myself.

I could play well naturally and I think I’ll be able to keep showing my skills. In the Netherlands there are people coming from many different places and I didn’t feel like a stranger, even when I was walking around the city.

I want to play and score. I’ll do my best so that the supporters recognise me as a real Utrecht player as soon as possible.

- Yoshiaki Takagi

Goal.com: Can you communicate in English or Dutch?

YT: I’m starting to learn both languages. Dutch is very difficult to pronounce. I’m practicing with the voice function of the electronic dictionary...

Goal.com: What are your goals for the next season?

YT: To begin with, I want to play and score. I’ll do my best so that the supporters recognise me as a real Utrecht player as soon as possible.

Goal.com: Finally, one thought for Tokyo Verdy and your supporters in Japan...

YT: I am coming to Europe as an ambassador of Verdy. I’ll do my best and I’ll never forget about the Japanese supporters' warm goodbye. One day I’ll be back as one of the national team players, so please, continue to support me.

Translation supervisor: Teppei Takano

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