STADIO OLIMPICO (Rome): Little over a month ago, Daichi Kamada‘s time at Lazio seemed to be over before it had ever really got going.

But a whirlwind end to the season, in which the careers of several key figures at the Roman club have ended and others have been thrown into doubt, has transformed the Japanese midfielder’s fortunes in Rome.

In the last six weeks, we have seen Maurizio Sarri and his backroom staff resign, Luis Alberto publicly ask to leave and Felipe Anderson sign a deal with Palmeiras.

One man who seemed certain to join them in heading for the exit was Kamada, who has had the strangest of debut seasons since joining Lazio on a one-year deal last summer.

Lazio Kamada
Lazio’s Daichi Kamada. [@OfficialSSLazio]

His arrival from Eintracht Frankfurt seemed at the time to be a savvy piece of business from the Romans, who got the midfielder on a free transfer after a successful five-year spell in Germany that included a 2021/22 Europa League triumph.

Possessing excellent technique, impressive versatility, bags of experience at the elite end of club and international football and aged just 27, the initial hope was that Kamada, while a very different player, could fill the gaping void left by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

However, the Japan star soon found himself sliding on a downward trajectory in the following six months as he struggled to adapt to his new club.

After a decent start where he was handed a starting spot and scored a fine winner away to Napoli, Kamada soon lost favour under Sarri.

In the proceeding months he went from Sergej‘s successor, to a Luis Alberto backup, to occasional substitute, to forgotten bench-warmer.

Kamada‘s lack of game time cost him a place in the Japan squad for the Asian Cup despite his 31 caps and 2022 World Cup contribution with the Samurai Blue.

However, Sarri‘s shock resignation in March gave him a lifeline and Igor Tudor has brought the midfielder in from the cold and made him a key figure in his new system.

A move from Sarri‘s 4-3-3 to Tudor’s 3-4-2-1 has opened up more possibilities for Kamada, who can operate either as a central midfielder or behind the striker.

The role he has impressed in has been as a deep-lying playmaker, dictating play from deep with impressive confidence since the Croatian’s debut, a 1-0 win over Juventus.

In 14 games under Sarri between 10 January and 11 March, Kamada made just four appearances, all from the bench and for a combined 65 minutes.

Under Tudor, he has started all four Serie A games and notched his first goal involvement since September in last weekend’s win over Genoa with a neat assist for Luis Alberto.

That goal was noted for being crafted by three players who could be off at the end of the season: Anderson, Kamada and Luis Alberto.

Anderson has already announced he’s off to Palmeiras at the end of his contract, Luis Alberto said in an interview that he “doesn’t want another euro from Lazio“, and Kamada‘s deal expires in June.

By the tail end of Sarri‘s spell, there was no doubt that Kamada would seek pastures new when the campaign ended.

But now, things have changed. Tudor has waxed lyrical about his playmaker, calling him an “extraordinary player” after the Genoa win and a “complete player who is very gifted” ahead of Wednesday’s Coppa Italia semi-final second leg against Juventus – a game the Japanese missed through injury.

Lazio Tudor
Lazio coach Igor Tudor. [@OfficialSSLazio]

Kamada is now reassessing his options.

In an interview with Japanese outlet Sports Hochi last week, he said: “I’m really happy to finally be able to help the team. This is how I played in Germany, so I feel at ease now.

“A lot of teams have been linked in the media as my next destination, but I haven’t made any decisions yet. Now I feel that the coach has faith in me, is looking after me and I’m more suited to his style of football in a lot of ways.”

What happens next is anyone’s guess. Lazio are rarely in a hurry to get business done, but the clock is ticking.

Fabrizio Romano‘s report that Kamada could extend his deal by three years by paying the club a symbolic €100 by the end of May was shot down by the player himself in the aforementioned interview: “It’s not true.”

But his agent’s phone is unlikely to be quiet. Real Betis, Crystal Palace and former employers Frankfurt have all been linked with the 27-year-old recently.

The ball appears to be in Tudor‘s court. The Croatian has had a rollercoaster start to life in Rome as he tries to implement a new style and system mid-season amid an atmosphere of frustration from fans lamenting a below-par campaign.

But if the Aquile can finish the season strongly and qualify Europe with a sense of optimism for the future, Kamada could well decide that – despite his nightmare start – he can flourish in Rome after all.