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Inamoto in line for Turkish first

Published: Friday 1 September 2006, 18.52CET
Midfielder Junichi Inamoto will become the first Japanese player to appear in the Turkish Superleague after agreeing to join champions Galatasaray SK.

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Published: Friday 1 September 2006, 18.52CET

Inamoto in line for Turkish first

Midfielder Junichi Inamoto will become the first Japanese player to appear in the Turkish Superleague after agreeing to join champions Galatasaray SK.

Junichi Inamoto will become the first Japanese player in the Turkish Superleague after agreeing to join Galatasaray SK.

Anchor role
The Turkish champions hope the Japanese international will fill the void in front of the defence left by the departure of Alioum Saïdou to French side FC Nantes Atlantique earlier in the summer. "I know I am going to be the first Japanese player in Turkey and this excites me," said the 26-year-old, who has signed an initial one-year deal with the option for a further season. "I know how big a club Galatasaray are, and I'm aware of the pressure we are under to achieve success. I will do my best to help the cause."

English experience
Inamoto, who has scored four goals in 65 appearances for his country, started out with Gamba Osaka in his homeland and spent five years in the first team there before opting to try his luck in England. Long-term loans with Arsenal FC and Fulham FC followed before West Bromwich Albion FC signed him on a permanent basis in summer 2004. However, opportunities were initially limited at the Birmingham club and Inamoto – who featured in the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cup finals – was loaned to Cardiff City FC before becoming a West Brom regular last season, playing in 22 Premiership games.

Burgeoning talent
Galatasaray have also cancelled the contract of Czech forward Marek Heinz and acquired promising midfielder Mehmet Topal from Dardanelspor AS, who were relegated from Turkish football's second tier last May. The 20-year-old, who turned professional in 2002, made 38 league appearances for Dardanelspor over the last two campaigns following his debut in 2004 and has signed a five-year deal with his new club.

Last updated: 01/09/06 18.16CET

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