While Nakata has made little impact at Parma since joining from Roma last summer, he remains Japan's most talented and most high-profile player.
Perhaps the first Asian football superstar, Nakata carries the huge burden of his nation's expectancy into the World Cup.
His creativity must shine through if Japan are to reach the latter stages of the competition.
He first came to the fore in 1998 when he joined Serie A side Perugia and scored 13 goals in 32 games. That caught the eye of Roma with whom he won the scudetto in 2001.
An £18.5m move to Parma followed, but there Nakata has had a quiet year, leaving Japan to hope that he has saved the best form of his season for the last.