A countdown of the 10 most memorable moments of Portuguese football in 2018: PART 6
6. Shoya Nakajima setting the Portuguese Primeira Liga alight
Nakajima arrived at Portimonense with the smallest of reputations on the European stage. Having initially arrived on loan from FC Tokyo, Nakajima had never even played for Japan in his career, showing that even in his home country his status in the game was yet to reach the lofty heights he has now managed to get to.
As such, his truly outstanding performances week upon week for Portimonense have been a truly wonderful sight; seeing a player from outside the “Big Three” perform to such a high standard is near-on unheard of, and shows what a truly terrific coup he was for the club.
His dribbling, explosiveness and confidence on the ball combined with his flair, composure and precise shot accuracy made him an instant hit, and he quickly became one of the very best players in the league - including those from Benfica, Porto and Sporting.
In total, he managed to get a scarcely believable 10 goals and 12 assists in just 29 appearances, meaning that he directly contributed to 22 of Poritmonense’s 52 league goals. Without him and his surreal contribution, his side, who ultimately finished 10th place in the league, would no doubt have been relegated from Portugal’s top flight.
The fact that he is still at Portimonense now is something of a surprise, and many expected he would make a move to one of the big three sides in Portugal, but it is testament to just how good he is that none of Benfica, Sporting or Porto can actually afford him.
His price tag of 40 million euros is money that is difficult to comprehend for a side like Portimonense, and would have a stunning impact on the club at large.
He has, in recent weeks, been linked with a move to Wolverhampton Wanderers, while other Premier League clubs such as Southampton and Leicester have also been linked with the Japanese international.
Those who thought he would prove to be a one-season wonder are very much mistaken, with Nakajima now adding a further 5 goals and 6 assists to his Primeira Liga tally this campaign - in just 12 outings.
His incredible efforts since he came to Portugal are worthy of inclusion as one of the 10 standout moments for Portuguese football this year.