Schalke signs Japan captain Yoshida to bolster defense

AP , Wednesday 6 Jul 2022

After missing out on one Japanese player, Schalke signed a different one.

Maya Yoshida
Sampdoria s Maya Yoshida controls the ball during their Serie A soccer match against Udinese at the Luigi Ferraris stadium, in Genoa, Italy, Jan. 16, 2021. AP

The promoted Bundesliga club signed Japan captain Maya Yoshida on Tuesday to bolster its defense and chances of survival next season.

The 33-year-old Yoshida signed a one-year deal with the option of another season, Schalke said in a statement.

``Maya is a leader who will organize our game from the back. He can play as a left or right center back and his calm style of play will give us stability,'' Schalke coach Frank Kramer said.

Yoshida's arrival softens the blow of seeing Japan defensive midfielder Ko Itakura join league rival Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday. Itakura was outstanding for Schalke last season as he helped the team secure promotion back to the Bundesliga after one season in the second division.

But Schalke lacked the financial ability to make Itakura's loan move from Manchester City permanent, and Gladbach reportedly paid around 5 million euros ($5.2 million) for his transfer.

Yoshida played last season for Serie A team Sampdoria. He previously played for Southampton from 2012-20 in the English Premier League. He also played for VVV-Venlo in the Netherlands and Nagoya Grampus in Japan.

``Maya's footballing, physical and mental qualities will enable him to take on an important role in our team,'' Schalke sporting director Rouven Schroder said. ``He's shown that he's a true leader during his time in Italy, England, Japan and the Netherlands. We are confident that he will help to keep us in the Bundesliga.''

Yoshida has made 119 appearances for Japan since making his international debut in 2010.

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