• Kyodo

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Kashima Antlers defender Gen Shoji is set to transfer to French first-division side Toulouse, sources revealed Tuesday.

After receiving an offer from Toulouse, Kashima had been trying to convince Shoji to stay with the J. League first division side, but said his intention to transfer is firm.

As a center back, Shoji contributed to Japan reaching the round of 16 at this year’s World Cup in Russia. He had been approached by multiple European clubs during the summer transfer period but opted to remain with Kashima to help in its successful campaign for a first Asian Champions League title.

The 25-year-old Hyogo Prefecture native, known for his positional and ball-winning prowess, began his career with Antlers in 2011 and contributed to their Emperor’s Cup victory in 2016. He has 15 senior caps for Japan with one goal.

Toulouse finished 18th in the 20-team French Ligue 1 last season but won its relegation playoff to remain in the top flight. After 14 matches of the current season, it sits15th on the table.

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