Manchester City have signed Japanese defender Ko Itakura and immediately sent him on loan to Eredivisie side FC Groningen.
Though no announcement has been made by City, Groningen have announced the capture of Itakura, who turns 22 on 27 January, on a loan deal from the Premier League champions until the summer of 2020.
Yokohama-born Itakura has most recently played for J1 League club Kawasaki Frontale and had spent time on loan at Vegalta Sendai.
Itakura is a former Japan under-20 international and his signing was announced on Twitter by Groningen, with nothing from his parent club Manchester City yet.
🤝 Welkom Ko Itakura!🇯🇵
Morgen komt de 21-jarige Japanse verdedigende middenvelder naar Nederland. Hij komt over van @ManCity. #WelcomeItakura #trotsvanhetnoorden pic.twitter.com/TlVjE4Jc7T
— FC Groningen (@fcgroningen) January 14, 2019
Reports from Japan state Itakura has signed a ‘multi-year’ deal with City and his loan to Groningen is due to a UK work permit being impossible at this stage of his career.
City have had dealings with Groningen in the past, sending former youth prospect Albert Rusnak on loan there and more recently Mexican winger Uriel Antuna, whose spell was cut short six months early.
The Blues have also shown interest in Itakura’s compatriot Ritsu Doan, who plays for Groningen and is one of the most promising young players in the Dutch league.