21.12.2023 - 09:00 | source: Transfermarkt | Reading Time: 3 mins
Kamimura Gakuen High School
Gaku Nawata
Talents Calendar 

Gaku Nawata: Is Japan's high school Dybala headed straight for Europe?

There has been a tendency that has certainly been noted by European football fans. More and more Japanese talents are directly moving from school to Europe. Several talents like Shio Fukuda or Anrie Chase headed to Europe without previously playing in the J1 League. Both Fukuda and Chase headed to Germany, where they are playing for reserve sides of Bundesliga clubs with the hope of breaking into the first team. Gaku Nawata from the Kamimura Gakuen High School could be the next player to move directly to Europe. 

Gaku Nawata
G. Nawata Second Striker
Kamimura Gakuen High School
Kamimura Gakuen High School
Career stats
All competitions

Only 171cm tall, the forward was one of the most important players of Japan’s U17 national team that won the Asian Cup in Thailand last summer. Nawata won the Golden Boot with five goals and was voted the best player of the tournament. The striker also scored two goals in the 3-0 win over South Korea

Surprisingly, the forward wasn’t always the starter at the U17 World Cup in Indonesia, and Rento Takaoka (Nissho Gakuen High School) was the top scorer with four goals. Japan was eliminated in the round of 16 against Spain (1-2). Nawata scored to make it 1-1, and briefly, there was some hope that Japan could turn the game around. 

Talents Calendar Day 20: Gaku Nawata

Although there are several very talented players in Nawata’s age group, he is the one to score the important goals. Wearing the no.14 for Kamimura Gakuen High School, Nawata can play as a second striker, no.10, but also on both wings. Although not very tall, Nawata has the ability to operate in tight spaces, is a very good dribbler, and a good feeling for the ball. Playing in the Prince Takamado U18 Premier League West, Nawata has managed nine goals and six assists in 15 games.

Talents Calendar 2022: How have last year's talents developed?

Paris Brunner | Germany | Market value: –

Paris Brunner is still awaiting his first game with Borussia Dortmund's first team. But the forward has been a star for Germany at the U17 World Cup in Indonesia.


Paul Okon | Australia | Market value: –

Paul Okon is currently making his next steps within the Benfica academy.


Christos Alexiou | Greece | Market value: –
© Christos Alexiou

Christos Alexiou has struggled with injuries and is currently playing for Inter Milan's U18.


Mike Kleijn | Netherlands | Market value: –

Mike Kleijn is still waiting for his Feyenoord debut and has also been converted from being a playmaker to a left-back.


Henry Gray | New Zealand | Market value: €125,000

Born in Germany Henry Gray has fulfilled his dream of moving to Europe by joining Ipswich Town.


Luka Parkadze | Georgia | Market value: €150,000

Luka Parkadze joined Bayern Munich in the summer and was right away loaned out to the Admira Wacker Mödling.


Luphumlo Sifumba | South Africa | Market value: €200,000
© Cape Town City FC

Luphumlo Sifumba is still waiting for a high profile move to Europe.


Omar Megeed | Egypt | Market value: €250,000

Omar Megeed is now a member of Hamburg's first squad.


Martin Kern | Hungary | Market value: €250,000

Martin Kern has made his debut for Puskás Akadémia FC but has struggled with injuries this season.


Theo Sander | Denmark | Market value: €500,000

Theo Sander has left Aalborg BK and joined Danish giants Copenhagen.


Beknaz Almazbekov | Kyrgyzstan | Market value: €500,000
© Galatasaray SK

Beknaz Almazbekov has played three games for Kyrgyzstan but is still waiting to make his first team debut for Galatasaray.


Wisdom Amey | Italy | Market value: €700,000

Wisdom Amey is still awaiting his first team debut for Bologna.


Yarek Gasiorowski | Spain | Market value: €1m

Yarek Gasiorowski is now a member of Valencia's first team and has already featured five times.


Fabio Chiarodia | Italy | Market value: €1m

Fabio Chiarodia joined Gladbach from Werder for €2m and has featured five times for his new club.


Kenan Yildiz | Turkey | Market value: €1m

Since scoring his debut goal for Turkey Kenan Yildiz is considered one of the hottest prospects in European football.


Joshua Wynder | USA | Market value: €1.2m

Joshua Wynderleft Louisville City and joined Benfica in what was a USL Championship record transfer.


Rodrigo Ribeiro | Portugal | Market value: €3m

Rodrigo Ribeiro has already regularly featured for Sporting this season.


Roger | Guinea-Bissau | Market value: €3.5m

Roger is one step further at Braga and has featured in 18 games altogether.


Valentín Carboni | Argentina | Market value: €5m

Valentín Carboni has been loaned out from Inter Milan to Monza where he is supposed to collect much needed playing time.


Jobe Bellingham | England | Market value: €6m

Jobe Bellingham the brother of Real Madrid star Jude Bellingham has joined Sunderland last summer.


Julien Duranville | Belgium | Market value: €8.5m

Julien Duranvillej oined Dortmund for €8.5m last January but has struggled with injuries.


Désiré Doué | France | Market value: €15m

Désiré Doué has already managed 50 games for Stade Rennais and has been called up for France's U21 side.


Antonio Nusa | Norway | Market value: €20m

Despite back problems, Antonio Nusa has become a regular player at Brugge and increased his market value by 400%.


Vitor Roque | Brazil | Market value: €32m

Vitor Roque has underlined his massive potential by making his debut for Brazil.


Nawata’s favorite team is Liverpool, and his dream is to play in the Premier League. As for his favorite player? That would be Roma forward Paulo Dybala. Nawata certainly has the confidence to follow in Dybala’s footsteps. “My goal is to play for the senior national team,” Nawata said to journalists after winning the Asian Championship. “I can’t be satisfied with playing just for the U17.” Nawata will be 20 at the 2026 World Cup in North America. 

From High School to Europe? Nawata’s future remains open 

There has been a long debate in Japan on what is the best path for talented players. Kaoru Mitoma, for example, studied at Tsukuba University and collected experience at Kawasaki Frontale before heading to Europe to play at Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium before becoming a star in the Premier League with Brighton. Indeed, Nawata still remains open about which path he will choose after he finishes high school. Will he first go to a J-League club to collect experience? Study and develop at a university team? Or go straight to Europe? For now, he has one more year to decide. 

From December 1 to 24, we introduce new players from different countries born in 2006 and 2007. Area managers, users, and data scouts come into play as experts throughout the series. You can follow all those players by adding them to your TM watchlist.

Gaku Nawata
Kamimura Gakuen High School
Gaku Nawata
Date of birth/Age:
Jul 29, 2006 (17)
Nat.:  Japan
Current club:
Kamimura Gakuen High School
Contract until:
Second Striker
Market Value:
Kamimura Gakuen High School
Total Market Value:
Squad size:
Latest Transfer:
Soon-min Hwang