Just to confirm the point that Shonan Bellmare forward Naoki Ishihara has indeed become Ardija's first major signing of the close season. The 24-year-old from Takasaki in Gunma prefecture has signed a year's deal, having scored thirty league goals in the last two seasons at Shonan, for whom he made his debut as long ago as 2003.
The press may be sure that the Squirrels are set to make a deal for Sagan Tosu forward Yoshihito Fujita, but the previous rumour relating to Ardija's chase for another striker - Shonan Bellmare's Naoki Ishihara - is still not going away. Sponichi even go so far as to suggest that an announcement will be made on New Year's Day, with 24-year-old Ishihara supposedly to agree to a salary similar to that of Fujita.
Yomiuri might have been saying it was a done deal a few days ago and there's still no official confirmation from any quarters, but Sponichi are also now reporting that Ardija have signed Sagan Tosu striker Yoshihito Fujita. Gamba Osaka were also thought to be interested but Sponichi advise that a tasty Y20m a year, multi-year contract was enough to tip the balance in Omiya's favour.
The Yomiuri is reporting that Ardija have completed the signing of Sagan Tosu star forward Yoshihito Fujita for a fee said to be Y1bn. Fujita, 25, made his debut in 2006 and has scored 46 goals in 105 games for the Kyushu side. He finished third top scorer in J2 in the 2008 campaign, behind only Hisato Sato of Sanfrecce Hiroshima and ex-Omiya player Yutaka Takahashi, now at Roasso Kumamoto.
Nineteen-year-old Ardija forward Daisuke Watabe will be a member of the Japan U20 squad to take part in the Qatar International Youth Football Tournament in January. Watabe, who moved up from the Omiya youth to first-team squad at the end of 2007, has previously appeared for Japan at U16, U17 and U18 level.
Following in the footsteps of Takahiro Takagi, Akira Ishigame and Yusuke Shimada, central defender Tatsuya Kawahara has become the fourth Ardija player in recent years to be loaned out to Thespa Kusatsu. The former Toyo University student, who is 23, joined Omiya a year ago but despite impressing for the reserves he never made a first team appearance in any competition. He will be at Thespa for the whole of the marathon 2009 J2 season.
Central defender Haruki Nishimura has returned to Omiya after a year with JFL side Arte Takasaki. The 21-year-old came up through the Squirrels' youth system before being awarded a pro contract prior to the 2007 season. However, he never appeared for the Ardija first team and was then loaned to Takasaki - who finished second bottom in the JFL - twelve months ago.