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Thursday, Jan. 27, 2005

Koji Nakata cleared by club to join Marseille

Japan international midfielder Koji Nakata said Wednesday he will transfer to French club Marseille after a breakthrough in talks the same day with Kashima Antlers president Hiroshi Ushijima.

Nakata, who is currently training with the national team in Miyazaki for Japan's clash against North Korea next month, will fly to Marseille on Thursday and formally sign pending a medical check.

"I'm happy. In the end, the (Kashima) president wished me luck," said Nakata, who got the green light from Ushijima for the move to the Mediterranean club during a conference call.

"This is not a contract that will quickly end after six months, and I got a pretty good deal financially. I felt like this was my last chance. I really want to go over there and respond to expectations," Nakata said.

Nakata recently underwent a trial with Marseille, the French first division club that is managed by former Japan coach Philippe Troussier. But Ushijima said just last week that he had rejected an "unacceptable" offer for the 25-year-old player.

It is unclear when Nakata, who has 46 caps for his country, will rejoin the national team for final preparations for Japan's match in Saitama against North Korea on Feb. 9 in the final round of qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

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