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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Usami agrees to Bayern loan move


OSAKA — Gamba Osaka said Monday that Japan striker Takashi Usami will move to Bundesliga outfit Bayern Munich on loan after the two clubs finally reached an agreement.

News photo
Fly boy: Takashi Usami speaks at a news conference to announce his loan move to Bayern Munich on Monday. KYODO PHOTO

"I was concerned about leaving the team during the season, but you don't get chances like this," Usami said at a news conference. "I made the decision after thinking that this presents a big challenge for me."

The move is for six months, but the 19-year-old sensation is hoping to make a full transfer to the German giants after the loan period. Usami also had offers from Atalanta of Italy's Serie A and Sporting Lisbon of the Portuguese first division.

He will join Bayern on July 15, two days after making his final appearance for Gamba at home to Vissel Kobe in the J. League.

"It has been my dream to play for a big club like this. I want to grow into a player that even I can't imagine by playing in a league at this high level," said Usami, whose career goal is to win the FIFA Ballon d'Or, the world player of the year award.

"I had the option of going to a club where I would have had a better chance to play. But it's been my dream to play for a big club, and they were very passionate about having me."

Usami also announced that he has married his childhood sweetheart Ran Tainaka, who works as a TV newscaster.

A product of Gamba's youth system, Usami has been playing in the top flight since he was 17.

Last season, Usami scored seven goals and won the Best Young Player award. He received his first callup to the senior national team that played out goalless draws against Peru and the Czech Republic at the recent Kirin Cup, but did not get any playing time.

Usami has played in all 11 matches this season for Gamba, scoring two goals. His manager Akira Nishino said the transfer says everything about Usami's world-class potential.

Currently featuring some of the world's best players, like Dutch winger Arjen Robben and French playmaker Franck Ribery, Bayern have won 22 league titles and been crowned champions of Europe four times.

"This is just a testament to how much they rate him," Nishino said.

"They are one of the top teams in the world. I think I'll learn a lot being surrounded by the best players in the game," Usami said. "I want to mature, to constantly get better so I can become good enough to win a place in the team."

Jubilo's Park joins Basel


BASEL, Switzerland — Swiss champion FC Basel has signed South Korea defender Park Joo Ho from Jubilo Iwata.

Basel says the 24-year-old left-back has agreed a four-year contract.

Basel hired Czech Republic international Radoslav Kovac on a two-year deal from England's West Ham United last week.

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