Japan defender Sakai to join Marseille

Kyodo

Japan defender Hiroki Sakai will join French Ligue 1 outfit Marseille after his contract expired with Bundesliga club Hannover, the French side announced Thursday.

The 26-year-old played for Hannover, which will be relegated to the German league’s second division, since transferring from the J. League’s Kashiwa Reysol in 2012.

He will be the second Japanese to play for Marseille after former Japan midfielder Koji Nakata, who was with the club in 2005-2006.

Sakai made his Japan debut in May 2012 and has played in 27 games to date. He was a member of Japan’s squad for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.