Ko Itakura joins Schalke on loan with an option to buy

Four years after Atsuto Uchida’s departure, Schalke 04 have acquired a new Japanese defender: Ko Itakura will join the Royal Blues on loan from Manchester City for the 2021/22 season. The Knappen also have an option to buy the 24-year-old. Both clubs reached a nondisclosure agreement regarding further transfer details.

Ko Itakura

“We are delighted to have made this transfer happen,” said sporting director Rouven Schröder. “We have been following Ko Itakura’s progress closely for a long time and are absolutely convinced that his abilities can help us: he defends proactively and aggressively with great positioning, and is strong in the air both at the back and up front. Despite only being 24 years old, he offers a great deal of experience which will strengthen our squad.”

We have been following Ko Itakura’s progress closely for a long time and are absolutely convinced that his abilities can help us.

Rouven Schröder

“I am very happy to now be a Schalke 04 player. The club is very well-known in Japan, not least because of Atsuto Uchida, and it would be great if I can impress the fans in the same way Uchida did back then,” said an equally delighted Itakura. “I would like to thank the club representatives for their trust and I am looking forward to my first training session with the team.”

Ko Itakura, who can also play in defensive midfield, was born in Yokohama. In January 2019, Manchester City signed the then 21-year-old, only to loan him out to FC Groningen a day later. Itakura spent the next two and a half years at Groningen, making 56 appearances in the Eredivisie. Last season, Itakura did not miss a single minute of league action. He also played in every one of Japan’s games at the Olympics where they finished fourth.

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