THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
July 3, 2022 at 11:55 JST
Schalke’s Ko Itakura, right, celebrates with fans on the pitch the team’s promotion to the Bundesliga after the 2nd Bundesliga soccer match against FC St. Pauli at the Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on May 7. (AP Photo)
MÖNCHENGLADBACH, Germany--Borussia Mönchengladbach signed Japan defensive midfielder Ko Itakura from Manchester City on Saturday after seeing the role he played in helping Schalke return to the Bundesliga.
The 25-year-old Itakura signed a contract through June 2026, Gladbach said.
Itakura spent last season on loan at Schalke from City and scored four goals in 31 league appearances to help the Gelsenkirchen-based team secure promotion back to Bundesliga after one season in the second division.
But Schalke reportedly didn’t have the financial capability to sign Itakura permanently as per its agreement with City, despite his starring performances for the team. Gladbach was reportedly paying around 5 million euros ($5.2 million) for the transfer.
“Ko is an extremely strong runner and tactically disciplined player who can play in various positions in defense, including the ‘six,’” Gladbach sporting director Roland Virkus said. “He surely had several good options for a move. So we’re even more pleased that he is convinced of our way, because he is an important building block in our planning.”
Itakura came through the youth system of Japanese club Kawasaki Frontale and was signed by Man City in January 2019 after a loan spell at Vegalta Sendai. He never played a competitive game for the English Premier League powerbroker, however, as he was loaned to Dutch side Groningen for 2 1/2 seasons before his time at Schalke.
Itakura has made 12 appearances for Japan.
Gladbach said Itakura will travel with the rest of the team to its preseason training camp at Tegernsee in Bavaria before he is presented on Monday.
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