The speculation has been mounting for the last few weeks, but it looks like the rumours that Shunsuke Nakamura may return to Japan to ensure he's playing regularly in the run-up to the World Cup have some credibility after all.
Nakamura has struggled to gain a regular starting spot at Espanyol since moving from there on a free transfer from Celtic last summer and it would make a lot of sense for him - in the short term at least - to return to Yokohama F Marinos, the club where he started his career.
Without Nakamura in their starting line-up at the East Asian Championship, the Japanese struggled but - if truth be told - the floppy fringed left-footed midfielder is no longer the creative force he once was. While he still retains a significant threat from set pieces, in open play he can look pedestrian.
A return to the J.League could at least arrest his descent for long enough for him to be able to exert some influence on the national team and drag them back up to a level where they won't be embarrassed in South Africa.
Should Nakamura return to Japan, it will further reduce the number of Japanese players in the top leagues in Europe. Currently, the only other players likely to be in Takeshi Okada's squad who are playing in Europe are Keisuke Honda (CSKA Moscow), Daisuke Matsui (Grenoble), Takayuki Morimoto (Catania) and Makoto Hasebe (Wolfsburg)