Japan captain Maya Yoshida has joined Schalke on a one-year contract from Italy’s Sampdoria, the German first-division club confirmed in a statement on Tuesday.
Yoshida, who led the Samurai Blue to the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification earlier this year, has signed for the newly-promoted Bundesliga side after two-and-half seasons in Serie A. The Japanese international, who has represented his country at the FIFA World Cup on several occasions, is honored to be moving to Schalke.
“I’m delighted to get the chance to wear the FC Schalke 04 shirt, and I’m looking forward to getting to know my teammates, the coaching staff and the fans. 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,” Yoshida was quoted as saying by the official website of Schalke.
The 33-year-old previously spent seven-and-a-half seasons in the Premier League with Southampton and is Japan’s fourth-most capped player with 119 appearances. He opened his career with the J. League’s Nagoya Grampus before moving to Holland’s VVV-Venlo in 2010.
“Maya’s footballing, physical and mental qualities will enable him to take on an important role in our team. 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,” said Rouven Schroder, sporting director of Schalke.
A key part of Japan’s 2011 Asian Cup-winning squad, Yoshida has represented his country at two World Cups as well as three Olympic men’s soccer tournaments.
He will become the third Japanese defender to have played for Schalke, replacing 2021-22 loanee Ko Itakura and following in the footsteps of retired Samurai Blue star Atsuto Uchida, who called the club home from 2010 to 2016.
The defender played for Southampton between 2012 and 2020 and made 154 Premier League appearances for the Saints. He’s also played on 72 occasions in Serie A, featured 71 times for Nagoya Grampus in the Japanese league, and made 54 appearances in the Eredivisie for VVV Venlo.
Yoshida made his debut for the Japan national team in 2010 and has so far made a total of 119 appearances for his nation, scoring 12 goals. He’s also represented Japan in twelve matches at the Olympic Games.