A lot of the talent from Japanese football is currently found in countries like Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. There is no shortage of it, as Japanese players develop and move to greener pastures to make a name for themselves. The newest one in that regard could be PSV Eindhoven’s Ritsu Doan.
Still only 21, Doan is a well-known name for Japanese football fans in the world. He’s already a regular member of the Japanese national side, having first made his debut back in September 2018- after the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Fans in Japan were glued to their smart devices wanting to know the live score on this historic day for the player.
But on the European stage, he has been growing in stature over the years. In fact, this is his first season for PSV in the Eredivisie. The Dutch giants acquired his signature from fellow first division side Groningen in the summer of 2019. His spell at Groningen had technically lasted two years, with the first season being a loan stint from Gamba Osaka before the move was made permanent in the summer of 2018.
His career path shows an obvious pace of development and growth. And that certainly has been the case for Doan.
His first season in the Netherlands had seen him score nine goals and get three assists. Those numbers had helped him go past Arjen Robben’s numbers as the highest-scoring teenager for Groningen in a single season.
His second season wasn’t as sparkling as his numbers reduced, but the move to PSV saw him make a big leap to one of the biggest clubs in the land. Before arriving at Eindhoven, he had scored once in two games for Groningen. But his opening stint at PSV has shown signs of him being a player who is still settling in at a bigger club.
The right-winger has made 20 appearances for the club, scoring twice and assisting three times. Two of those assists came in the Europe League in the club’s group stage game against Rosenborg. The fact that both of them came in one team does highlight a weakness in his style.
That is the final product. While that is something a player learns over time- especially wingers, but Doan is yet to learn it. This season, he has completed 2.2 dribbles per game but only has a tally of 0.9 key passes per game to his name. He also takes only 1.6 shots per game, leading to a much lower output than usual.
He’s still maturing and playing at a bigger level for the first time in his career. And over time, these numbers will either become more efficient or their quantity will increase. He will try more dribbles or dribble less and create more. When will that period come in his career is anyone’s guess. But the sort of player he is, Doan needs that furnishing in his final product.
He has already made 18 appearances for the national team, scoring thrice and racking up as many assists. In the recent Asian Cup, he played six times in the tournament and got two goals for the country. One of his best international performances in the Japan shirt came against Uruguay in an international friendly back in 2018.
He got a goal and an assist in helping the side pick up a 4-3 win. That was one of the performances which saw him rise to the occasion and deliver at a top-level. With the right coaching, he has enough to make an even bigger impact in the future.