Buriram United snap up ex-Bundesliga and Japan star Hajime Hosogai

AFC Champions League 2019: Urawa Red Diamonds 2-0 Guangzhou Evergrande (Takahiro Sekine 75′)

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Buriram United have strengthened their squad ahead of the 2019 season with the capture of former Japan international Hajime Hosogai.

Hosogai, who started his career in his native Japan with Urawa Red Diamonds, really rose to prominence in his time in the German Bundesliga, where he had spells with Bayer Leverkusen, Augsburg, Hertha Berlin and Stuttgart.

Following his time in Europe, which also included a loan spell at Turkish outfit Bursaspor, the midfielder return to the J1 League when he joined Kashiwa Reysol in 2017.

Hosogai came up against Andres Iniesta in J1 this season.

Although Kashiwa finished a creditable fourth last year and qualified for the AFC Champions League, they declined dramatically and were recently relegated after second-from-bottom in the 18-team competition.

And it has now emerged that Hosogai will leave for a new challenge after Kashiwa confirmed on their official website that the veteran is joining Thai League 1 champions Buriram.

“Although it was a short period of two years since I returned from Germany, it was an honour to play at the Hitachi Stadium which I had dreamed of since I was playing in school,” said the 32-year-old.

“It wasn’t as easy to perform to the best of my abilities for the supporters, and it was frustrating that I could not help the team.

“I initially wanted to continue at Reysol and help share my experiences with the younger players, but I was caught between many thoughts.

“As a footballer, I want to keep growing and that’s how I ultimately decided to embark on a new challenge.”

Buriram are yet to officially announce the signing of Hosogai although, with Kashiwa’s confirmation, it only appears to be a matter of time.

In moving to the Chang Arena, Hosogai will also play in the Champions League for a second consecutive season, with Buriram looking to once again qualify for the knockout in 2019 following some impressive displays this year which saw them advance from a group also including Guangzhou Evergrande, Cerezo Osaka and Jeju United.

Hosogai also won 30 caps to the Samurai Blue and was part of the squad that won Japan’s last AFC Asian Cup in 2011.

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