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Iniesta and Vissel Kobe will have to wait for success despite recent star signings

Japan's Vissel Kobe - led by legendary Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta - have made a raft of star signings recently in a bid for improvement in the second half of 2021. Hiroki Watanabe/Getty Images

In the span of three days starting last Saturday, Japan's Vissel Kobe issued a massive statement of intent with a trio of big-name signings.

The weekend saw the arrivals of Japan internationals Yoshinori Muto and Yuya Osako, both returning after lengthy stints in Europe, which was followed by Monday's capture of ex-Barcelona starlet Bojan Krkic -- once heralded as the next Lionel Messi.

The introduction of stellar names into a starting lineup does not always guarantee immediate success though.

And, for Vissel -- who already have Andres Iniesta, Thomas Vermaelen and Gotoku Sakai in their squad -- it almost seems a certainty that any major success will have to wait for 2022 at the earliest.

Just past the halfway mark of the current J1 League campaign, leaders and reigning champions Kawasaki Frontale have dominated and boast a 20-point lead over fourth-placed Vissel with 15 matches remaining.

In 32 matches so far in 2021 across four competitions, Frontale have yet to lose and look to be genuine contenders -- not just to retain their league crown and the Emperor's Cup -- but also in the AFC Champions League.

If they were to fall, however, there are teams in a better position to capitalise such as Yokohama F. Marinos, who trail the leaders by a 11 points.

Having failed to qualify for the ACL this season, the Emperor's Cup remains Vissel's most realistic avenue for silverware. Even that would not be considered a massive success -- given it is the one trophy that have won before in 2019.

Still, it is interesting to see how much improvement Vissel's recent signings will bring to a side brimming with talent and probably expected to be more prolific.

Their current tally of 36 goals in the J1 League is one of the competition's better records but pales in comparison to Frontale's and Marinos' hauls of 55 and 44 respectively.

They also recently lost top scorer Kyogo Furuhashi -- who scored 15 in the first half of the campaign alone -- to Scottish giants Celtic, which explains why manager Atsuhiro Miura has been active in bringing in attacking reinforcements of the highest calibre.

Apart from his time at Barcelona, Bojan also featured in Serie A with Roma and AC Milan, as well as the Premier League with Stoke.

Meanwhile, Osako was Werder Bremen's joint-top scorer in the Bundesliga just two seasons ago, while Muto also arrives with Premier League experience from his time at Newcastle.

Both not only featured at the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the Samurai Blue, but were also part of the side that finished runners-up at the AFC Asian Cup the following year.

Yet, the forwards should not be the only ones at blame for Vissel's failure to mount a stronger title challenge thus far, as Monday's shock 2-1 loss to Kashiwa Reysol highlighted deficiencies in defence too.

But it will now be down to the likes of Bojan, Osako and Muto to invigorate their new club to at least ensure a strong finish to the year.

At the very least, securing a return to continental the stage -- where they excelled on last term by reaching the ACL semifinals on debut -- would offer some consolation, as well as a platform for success in 2022.

Because that just will not be happening this season, regardless of how many big-name additions Vissel may make.