Shinji Okazaki signs for Malaga

Shinji Okazaki was released by Leicester City at the end of the season and has since been without a club. He still managed to win a spot in Japan's Copa America squad, and now looks set to sign for Spanish second division side Malaga.

Okazaki makes a good move

Okazaki's time was clearly up with Leicester at the end of last season, as father time seemed to catch up on his playing days in the Premier League. Released at the end of the season give him the flexibility and uncertainty that comes with being a free agent.

With teams not having to pay a transfer fee, it means that his agent could possibly have more luck finding clubs willing to listen to him about a transfer, but the uncertainty comes from not having a club, and not knowing if any are going to take a bite of the agents dangling cherry.

Clearly, Shinji had two options open to him; option 1 would be to remain in Europe, option 2 would be to move back to Japan. Turns out Okazaki has decided to go for option 2 by staying in Europe.

A move to the Spanish second division with Malaga should be good for him as he approaches the end of his playing career because as much as the Premier League is known for it's hustle and bustle and hard running, the Spanish leagues are well known for their panache and technical ability. Therefore, Okazaki should have no problem prolonging a career in Europe in this kind of environment considering Japanese players are some of the most technically gifted that Asia has to offer.

The mooted return to Japan

Twitter had been quite alive for some months in regards to Shinji Okazaki making a move back to Japan to play in the J-League, those rumours did seem strong, which clearly meant there was interest there, but it Okazaki clearly preferred to stay in Europe.

The door still remains open for Okazaki to return and play in Japan if he wanted to because he doesn't necessarily have to go and play in the J1, he could quite easily play for a smaller team. I think it is unlikely now though that he will return to Japan to play football, and will see out the rest of his playing career in Europe. All in all, a move to Malaga could be well suited for both Okazaki and Malaga.  

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