Kakitani: Why Basel was best for me

The Japanese attacker has explained why he chose to join the Swiss giants and end his spell at Cerezo Osaka
Japan striker Yoichiro Kakitani couldn’t hide his enthusiasm for his new European challenge in a press conference on Wednesday.

The Cerezo Osaka star’s highly-anticipated move to reigning Swiss Super League champions FC Basel was announced on Monday, with the July 15 match against Kawasaki Frontale to be his final J-League fixture.

“My transfer has been decided but I still have games left as a Cerezo player that I want to win,” Kakitani told reporters in Osaka, before adding that a disappointing experience at the 2014 World Cup was a factor in his decision.

“Personally and as part of Japan, I regret that we weren’t able to demonstrate our strength to the world,” he said. “I thought I could have prepared better and contributed more. I watched a lot of [the tournament] from the bench, and my desire to appear as a key player [for Japan] grew even stronger.”

Kakitani consulted with former Cerezo legends Hiroaki Morishima and Akinori Nishizawa, as well as Samurai Blue team-mate Yoshito Okubo, before coming to his decision.

“There’s a lot I won’t know until I go,” Kakitani said. “I may or may not improve [in Europe], but if there’s a chance to go I have to take it. Basel regularly progress in the Champions League and they’ve beaten big clubs in the group stage. They’ve won the domestic league five times in a row and I think they’re an attractive team.”

While expectations are high that Kakitani’s career will progress beyond the Swiss league, the player’s initial goal will be success at Basel.

“My career goals aren’t clear yet. [Cerezo] hope I’ll be able to move up to a bigger stage, but first they want me to play well at Basel. I’m not joining Basel to earn a bigger transfer [in the future], I’m going there to play well for their club.”