• Kyodo


French first-division side Marseille said Friday it has extended the contract of Japan international defender Hiroki Sakai by one season.

The 27-year-old Sakai joined the club from German first-division side Hannover in June 2016, and has started in 11 games with the French team.

The contract extension will enable him to stay with the side until 2021.

“He arrived on tip-toes in the summer of 2016, but since then, Hiroki Sakai has won over fans at Marseille,” the team said in a statement. “He quickly seized his chance and met the requirements needed for the defensive and athletic demands of the Ligue 1.”

Sakai, who has 38 caps for Japan, was a key player in the national team’s campaign to qualify for the World Cup finals in Russia next year.

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