The 27-year-old was presented to the media at Bruchweg, his first official interview since sealing his transfer from VfB Stuttgart last week, and spoke highly of his new surroundings. This was, however, after he had pulled out of his first training session with the club because of injury.
Barely fifteen minutes had passed before Okazaki had to withdraw from Saturday’s training session after suffering a hip injury following a coming together with team-mate Niki Zimling. Unfortunate and ill-timed though it was, the Japanese international was happy with how the day had gone and what the future holds at Mainz.
“I’m really looking forward to my time here and training under Thomas Tuchel and with this team,” he said, before allaying any fears about his fitness.”The bruise isn’t bad either. It’s just what happens in the Bundesliga.”
’Can make the difference’
It is not yet clear when he will return to fitness, but having represented Japan at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil recently, Okazaki's summer break has already been interrupted. Thomas Tuchel was pleased with what he saw
from his new recruit, though.
“He made a really great challenge in the first few minutes, so that’s a good start. Whenever we played Stuttgart we made a point of singling him out. He is always dangerous and can make the difference on the pitch."
As well as the former Shimizu S-Pulse man, Tuchel has two other newly-signed strikers to call upon this season in Sebastian Polter, signed from VfL Wolfsburg, and Dani Schahin, a new arrival from Fortuna Düsseldorf. All three players featured largely from the substitutes bench last season, but with thirteen-goal Adam Szalai now at FC Schalke 04, the competition up front is fiercer than ever.
Each of them will be hoping to establish themselves as Szalai’s successor, but with Tuchel prepared to play a system that incorporates either one striker or two, they call all also look forward to much more regular football, either as starters or from the substitutes’ bench.