Maya Yoshida will wear the Samurai Blue of Japan and Royal Blue of Schalke in 2022/23. - © Imago
Maya Yoshida will wear the Samurai Blue of Japan and Royal Blue of Schalke in 2022/23. - © Imago

Schalke sign Japan defender Maya Yoshida


Promoted Schalke have completed the free transfer of Japan international defender Maya Yoshida on a one-year deal through to 30 June 2023, with the option to extend for a further year.

Yoshida makes the move to Germany after a spell in Italy with Sampdoria. He previously played for Southampton in the English Premier League, the Netherlands' VVV-Venlo and Nagoya Grampus of Japan.

The 33-year-old will be seen as a direct replacement for compatriot Ko Itakura, who spent the 2021/22 season on loan at Schalke from Manchester City before joining Borussia Mönchengladbach at the start of July.

“I’m delighted to get the chance to wear the Schalke shirt, and I’m looking forward to getting to know my teammates, the coaching staff and the fans," Yoshida told the official club website. "I attended a match at the VELTINS-Arena many years ago, back when Atsuto Uchida was playing right-back, and I’ve also followed the Bundesliga with great interest for a long time. Therefore, I’m really pleased to finally become a part of it.”

Yoshia made 72 Serie A appearances across a two-and-a-half-year stint with Sampdoria, including 21 last season, but spent the majority of his career at Southampton, turning out 194 times for the club between 2012 and 2020.

The 119-time Japan international has captained his country since mid-2019, and is expected to retain the armband for this winter's 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

“Maya is a leader, who will organise our game from the back," said head coach Frank Kramer. "He can play as a left or right centre-back and his calm style of play will give us stability in all periods of the game.”

“Maya’s footballing, physical and mental qualities will enable him to take on an important role in our team," said sporting director Rouven Schröder. "He’s shown that he’s a true leader during his time in Italy, England, Japan and the Netherlands. We are confident that he will help to keep us in the Bundesliga.”

Yoshida (l.) is a 6'2" centre-back, who can also play on the right-hand side of defence. - Imago

Schalke are back in the Bundesliga after a one-season stint in Germany's second tier. The Royal Blues were promoted as Bundesliga 2 champions, ahead of runners-up Werder Bremen.

After facing lower-league Verl in the DFB Cup first round, they begin the 2022/23 Bundesliga campaign away to Cologne on 7 August.