Hearts indulged in some good transfer business recently by signing Japanese youngster Yutaro Oda from Vissel Kobe on a permanent deal. The 21-year-old’s transfer to Hearts is one of the interesting deals to happen in the Scottish Premiership in the 2023 winter transfer window. A highly-rated young forward, he featured regularly for Vissel Kobe’s first team before moving to Scotland. Oda made 27 appearances in all competitions, starting in 11 matches as Vissel Kobe finished 13th in the 2022 J1 League.
Since signing him on a three-and-a-half-year deal, Yutaro Oda has featured three times for Hearts in the Scottish Premiership already. The Japanese talent will provide the Scottish side with additional depth in the attacking positions as they look to finish the season strongly and retain the third spot. Below, we look at some stats to understand why Hearts decided to invest in this young Japanese forward.
Yutaro Oda is a wide forward by trade, but he can also play in other positions across the front line. The above viz shows the percentile rank of the player’s stats compared to other similar players from the 2022 J1 league. It can be observed that the 21-year-old fares admirably in the attacking department. Notably, the player ranks at the top for dribbles, shots, and penalty area touches. He also contributes in defence, as highlighted by his good rank for defensive duels contested and aerial duels won. Meanwhile, he can improve his overall gameplay in the possession department and has the capability to provide accurate passes.
Gameplay in attack
The above viz illustrates the player’s heat map from the last three seasons of the J1 League. It can be observed that Oda shows high intensity in the final third as well as in the midfield. He covers most of the ground in the opposition’s half, particularly down the flanks. The Japan U21 player comes with a lot of great attributes, including pace, directness, and technical ability. He provides a genuine threat in the wide positions and likes to make entries into the opposition’s box using his attacking skill sets.
The above viz depicts the xG map of Yutaro Oda from the Japanese top flight. He scored a total of two goals with an xG total of 5.1. He attempted a total of 48 shots, with most of them coming from inside the penalty area. Both of his goals have also come from inside the penalty area, and he has also taken a few attempts on goal from the six-yard box. The 21-year-old forward takes 2.5 shots per game with an accuracy of 33.3%.
Gameplay with the ball
Acting as a mobile forward, Yutaro Oda possesses some key attributes of a talented winger, which include dribbling and crossing ability. The above viz shows the winger actions performed by the player during the last three seasons. He attempts a lot of dribbles in wide positions in the final third with great success and likes to breach the opponent’s penalty area. He also sends a decent amount of crosses into the box. The 21-year-old averages 6.21 dribbles per match with a 52.1% success rate and delivers 1.77 crosses with an accuracy of 32.4%. He also makes 2.14 progressive runs per match and averages 3.55 touches in the opposition’s penalty box.
While the Japanese youngster can improve his overall passing gameplay, he still makes a decent contribution to the team by connecting accurate passes. In the J1 League, Oda averaged 23.27 passes per match with 83% accuracy. He also made 1.3 passes to the opposition penalty box (56% accuracy) per 90 minutes. The pass map above shows that most of the passes were made on either flank. Meanwhile, his passing accuracy rate indicates that the player is calm and composed before delivering a pass.
Role at Hearts
The addition of Yutaro Oda will add more depth and fresh talent to Hearts’ attacking line. He can serve as a backup option for attackers like Josh Ginnelly, Stephen Humphrys, and long-term absentee Liam Boyce. While playing for the first time, he will also get the opportunity to develop his overall gameplay. The above viz is a comparison between Yutaro Oda and 25-year-old Josh Ginnelly. Both players outperform each other in certain areas, but the 21-year-old Japanese has better stats in areas like dribbles, shots, opposition penalty area touches, defensive duels contested, and aerial duels won.
Overall, Yutaro Oda is a promising young player who has amassed a decent level of experience playing regularly for the first team. He is a young forward with a variety of attacking assets, but he also contributes to the team in other areas. The move to Hearts is certainly the next step in his career, where he will get to develop further into his potential and hopefully achieve success.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine