Japan international Ko Itakura has joined Schalke 04 on a one-year loan deal from Manchester City, the German second-division club said Thursday.

Schalke has an option to make the move permanent at the end of the season. The 24-year-old Itakura started in three games and played in all six for Japan at the Tokyo Olympics, where the host finished fourth.

Itakura, who can play center back and in defensive midfield, joined Manchester City from Kawasaki Frontale in January 2019 but spent the next 2½ seasons on loan at Groningen in the Dutch Eredivisie.

“I am very happy to now be a Schalke 04 player. The club is very well-known in Japan, not least because of Atsuto Uchida,” he said on the club’s website, referring to the former Japan right-back Uchida, who helped Schalke reach the Champions League semifinals in 2011.

“It would be great if I can impress the fans in the same way Uchida did back then.”

Itakura, who spent the 2018 season on loan at Vegalta Sendai before making his move to Europe, did not miss a single minute of league action last season as he played a total of 56 games for Groningen.

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