J. League first-division side Urawa Reds said Monday that Brazilian striker Emerson has joined Qatar’s Al-Saad after refusing to return to the team.

Urawa general manager Takaji Mori said an agreement has been reached on the transfer fee for Emerson, who began talks with Al-Saad this season after expressing his desire to change teams. Mori would not disclose the amount of the transfer.

The 23-year-old Emerson returned home to Brazil at the beginning of June but has not returned to Japan since the start of the season, citing family problems.

Emerson came to Japan in 2000 and played in the J. League second division before joining Urawa in August 2001.

He has scored 71 goals over five seasons in the top flight and was named the J. League MVP in 2003.

Last season, Emerson won his first top-scorer title in the first division and helped guide Urawa to its first-ever second-stage championship.

Al-Saad reached the quarterfinals of the Asian Champions League this season and is managed by Bora Milutinovic, who has coached both the United States and China to the World Cup.

Metz to sign Ahn South Korea striker Ahn Jung Hwan, who did not renew his contract with Yokohama F. Marinos when it expired at the end of June, is set to sign with French first-division side Metz, South Korean news agency Yonhap said Monday.

According to the report, Ahn, who had been negotiating deals with European clubs since he left the J. League first-division club, agreed to terms on the new contract in France on Sunday and will put pen to paper after undergoing a physical Monday.

Ahn joined J. League side Shimizu S-Pulse after playing a key role in South Korea’s fourth-place finish in the 2002 World Cup finals.

The 29-year-old moved to Marinos after the 2003 season and helped them win the J. League title last year by scoring 12 goals in 25 league matches.

Gamba wins thriller

OSAKA (Kyodo) Gamba Osaka kept J. League first-division leader Kashima Antlers in its sights after edging troubled Kashiwa Reysol 3-2 in an absorbing encounter Sunday.

Kashiwa wiped out a two-goal deficit to deservedly draw level through former Japan midfielder Tomokazu Myojin in the 81st minute, but Satoshi Yamaguchi celebrated his 250th league appearance by heading home the winner for Gamba moments later.

Gamba stayed in second place in the table after 15 games with 28 points, seven adrift of Kashima, which beat Kawasaki Frontale 2-0 on Saturday. Sanfrecce Hiroshima moved into third after a 1-0 win away to Oita Trinita in Sunday’s other match.

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