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Japan and Kashima Antlers midfielder Mitsuo Ogasawara has declined an offer from Italian Serie A side Messina, making him likely to start the 2006 season with the J-League first-division club, Kashima officials said Thursday.

Kashima informed a visiting Messina representative in the day’s negotiations of Ogasawara’s decision, while keeping talks alive with the same agent on Messina striker Atsushi Yanagisawa, who wants to return to Kashima, the officials said.

Ogasawara hopes to sign with a European club, but his chances faded before the close of the January transfer window.

Ogasawara failed in an attempt to secure a contract with West Ham United following a brief trial period with the English Premier League club.

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