Japan international Ko Itakura enjoyed an exceptional loan spell at Schalke last season. - © Imago
Japan international Ko Itakura enjoyed an exceptional loan spell at Schalke last season. - © Imago

Ko Itakura swaps Manchester City for Borussia Mönchengladbach


Borussia Mönchengladbach have moved to fill the void left by Freiburg-bound Matthias Ginter by snapping up versatile Japan defender Ko Itakura from Manchester City on a four-year deal.

The 25-year-old Itakura most recently gained promotion to the Bundesliga with Schalke while on loan at the Royal Blues from City last season. His arrival at Borussia-Park offers new coach Daniel Farke options in both central defence and defensive midfield positions.

"Ko covers an unbelievable amount of ground and is a tactically disciplined player who can operate in different positions in defence, including as a No.6" said Gladach sporting director Roland Virkus. "He had a number of attractive options in terms of a transfer, so we're all the more delighted that he's decided to join us because he's a cornerstone of our planning."

Itakura featured 31 times and scored four goals in what was a highly impressive 2021/22 campaign by the Japan international as Schalke bounced back to Germany's top flight by winning Bundesliga 2 last term.

Prior to teaming up with Die Knappen on loan from English Premier League champions City, the Yokohama native spent the previous two seasons on loan at FC Groningen, even being named as the Dutch side's player of the year in 2022.

A winner of the J1 League with Kawasaki Frontale, Itakura moved to Manchester City in 2019 but failed to make an appearance under ex-Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola. A senior Japan international on 12 occasions, Gladbach's new man will be hoping to impress at his new club with the 2022 FIFA World Cup rapidly approaching.

Watch: Ko Itakura's last-gasp goal against Hamburg

Gladbach had been in the market for defensive cover following Ginter's decision to move back to hometown club Freiburg after five seasons with the Foals.

Last season's 10-placed Bundesliga finishers start their 2022/23 challenge with a home encounter against Hoffenheim on 6 August.