Samurai Blue legend Shunsuke Nakamura will require up to three months to recover from foot surgery, his club Yokohama F. Marinos announced on Monday evening.
The 36-year-old underwent the operation for Os Trigonum Syndrome, a disorder common in football players and ballet dancers which causes an extra bone to grow behind one’s ankle, at a Kawasaki-area hospital.
Nakamura had joined the squad for their winter camp in southern Miyazaki Prefecture, but trained separately with complaints of pain in his foot until March 14.
The former Celtic star, who was named the J-League’s Most Valuable Player in 2013, remains one of Japan’s most popular athletes; his absence through most of the spring could be a cruel blow to a league hoping to capitalize on its domestic stars as it rolls out a new two-stage format.
With Marinos yet to land a big offseason acquisition, it seems likely for the moment that French coach Erick Mombaerts will choose from his current squad in order to replace his No. 10.
The J-League co-founders will begin their campaign on March 7 at home against Kanagawa Prefecture rivals Kawasaki Frontale.