Mainz - It was a case of one out, one in for 1. FSV Mainz 05 at the weekend, with the club first announcing the departure of Japanese forward Shinji Okazaki on Friday night before completing the signing of free agent Maximilian Beister on a three-year deal on Saturday.
'An exemplary sportsman'
Sporting director Christian Heidel believes Beister, whose contract with fellow Bundesliga side Hamburger SV expired at the end of the 2014/15 campaign, will "fit in well" with Mainz's style of play, but played down talk of the 24-year-old being bought to fill Okazaki's shoes. "We have not bought him as a like-for-like replacement for Shinji Okazaki," claimed Heidel. "Maximilian Beister has played at the highest level of German football for several years. We've known him and his qualities for a while now."
Okazaki, who has agreed personal terms with Premier League side Leicester City FC, has become an instantly recognisable figure in the Bundesliga having spent four years in Germany’s top flight with VfB Stuttgart and, most recently, Mainz for whom he had scored 27 goals in 65 league outings since joining in 2013. He is also the highest-scoring Japanese player in German top-flight history, having netted 37 goals in 128 appearances.
"Shinji Okazaki approached us to express his desire to complete a move to England, as it had been a long-standing dream of his to play in the Premier League before the end of his career," Heidel said of the Bundesliga’s record Japanese goalscorer. "It was a difficult decision for us to accept as he is a very important, dependable and key figure in our game and because, as a person, he has won a place in all of our hearts. However, we accept the decision because he has always, to the very last, been an exemplary sportsman and showed great character. We'll continue to follow his career path with plenty of interest and sympathy in the future.“