Today, the Chunichi Shimbun (Article, in Japanese, here) is reporting that Gifu’s ex-Japan international Alex Santos will leave the club.
Alex Santos 2014 season stats (via Football Lab)
- Appearances – 18
- Full 90 minutes – 9
- Goals – 2
- Yellow cards – 7
Alex was brought in as one of the “hat-trick” of high profile arrivals at the beginning of 2014 (the others being Ruy Ramos & Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi) that ushered in the new, high profile era of FC Gifu.
Alex started the season well, providing a set piece danger, whether from his long throws or vicious deliveries, that added a lot to Gifu’s arsenal. His corner led to Gifu’s first goal of the year (against Kamatamare Sanuki) and his brilliant free-kick forced Takuya Kokeguchi to head into his own net in the Kataller Toyama game.
Slowly though, teams began to realize that if they exposed him down the left, he no longer the pace to keep up with wingers/attackers. Teams set up to isolate him, and he picked up seven bookings – and I would think that the majority of them came when trying to stop opposition players racing past him.
He picked up an injury after the Consadole Sapporo game in the summer, and had an extended period of time out before returning to the bench for the final games of the season.
Now with four children, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Santos retire from the game. It looked like time had caught up with him during this year. His crossing/passing is still very good, but his body didn’t allow him to be comfortable on the left hand side of a back four or back five. If he does continue, I’d expect a team to play him as a holding midfielder which would allow him to pick passes, but would take the burden of running off him.
Of the pitch he has been extremely accommodating to fans when they ask him to sign things, take photos etc. even though he’s a fairly unassuming & quiet person away from the game. He has always acted with class and decorum whenever he’s been asked to promote the club. Whatever he goes on to do, I wish him the very best.