After a month off the Taiwan Premier League season enters the final cycle this Sunday and several of the teams have announced a raft of transfers in a bid to finish the season strongly.
Bottom-of-the-table Red Lions have been the busiest side. Eight players have departed (including the popular Pa Baboucarr Jallow) and twelve new ones have arrived as the club tries to claw itself away from the automatic relegation spot.
Unsurprisingly, the two university teams each made a number of changes, too. MCU, level on points with Red Lions, released five of their players and signed ten replacements, while NTUPES released and signed eight different players.
Among the rest of the teams, transfer activity has been a little more restrained. Taiwan Steel released four players and brought in two, including Japanese left midfielder Masaya Tobari from Saitama University.
The pacy winger, who has looked up to Cristiano Ronaldo since he was a child and describes himself as a “physical and speedy player,” spoke with Taiwanfootballnews.com about his journey to Taiwan and the preparations for the final stage of the season.
With international travel greatly restricted by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is no surprise that Tobari’s path to Taiwan was largely self-made.
The 23-year-old, who had never been to Taiwan before, contacted Steel directly, convinced them of his abilities and flew to Taiwan on July 18. Following a “tiring” fourteen-day stay in an isolation hotel upon his arrival, Tobari was finally able to link up with his new teammates, who he described as consistently appearing “better and better” during his month training with them.
Tobari, as with so many of the players in Taiwan’s Premier League, is humble and team-focused, telling Taiwanfootballnews.com that whether he plays is for team management to decide and that, although he aims to “win the championship,” his personal goal is to “work for and help [his teammates]” to “get points and assist” however he can.
Elsewhere, Steel’s rivals for the title, Taichung Futuro, brought in five new players, with two departing, while Hangyuan FC released seven players and brought in five replacements.
The traditional powerhouses of the league, Taipower and Tatung, were the most restrained in their transfer activities. Taipower signed one new player and released two, while a representative for Tatung informed Taiwanfootballnews.com that the Tatung squad remained unchanged.
With the top three teams in the league all level on 30 points, the potential impact of the new signings could well prove to be the difference.
The Taiwan Premier League resumes this Sunday with Taipower hosting rivals Tatung, wealthy-title-contenders Taiwan Steel at home to MCU, top-of-the-table Taichung Futuro facing NTUPES and Hang Yuan welcoming the much-changed Red Lions.