Soccer

New Besiktas signing Shinji Kagawa thrilled to be in Istanbul

Kyodo

Shinji Kagawa said Tuesday he is excited about life in Istanbul after joining Turkish first-division side Besiktas on loan.

“I’ve heard it’s a wonderful city. I’m really looking forward to living here,” the Japanese midfielder said in his first news conference since arriving in Turkey.

Kagawa made an immediate impact in his Turkish debut, coming off the bench late to score twice for Besiktas in a 6-2 win at Antalyaspor on Sunday.

“I want to contribute to the team winning, and climbing even just one place in the standings,” the 29-year-old attacking midfielder said.

Besiktas are one of Turkish football’s “Big Three” along with fellow Istanbul-based rivals Galatasaray and Fenerbache. Kagawa has joined the club on loan from runaway German Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund until the end of the season.

Currently third in the Turkish Super Lig, Besiktas have reportedly agreed to a 1.6-million euro ($1.8 million) loan fee for Kagawa, with the option to make the transfer permanent in the summer.

“I’m not sure what will happen after that. But to start, I’ll take it one game at a time,” Kagawa said.

After having dinner at the Istanbul home of World Cup teammate Yuto Nagatomo, who plays left-back for Galatasary, a smiling Kagawa said he would like to “return the favor following a (derby) victory.”

Kagawa played only two league games for Dortmund this season after falling out of favor with manager Lucien Favre.

The former Cerezo Osaka and Manchester United player was a key member of the Samurai Blue squad at last summer’s World Cup in Russia, helping Japan reach the round of 16, but was not selected for the recently concluded Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates.