Ko Itakura’s time at Manchester City could be over before it has begun as he could formalise a permanent move to Schalke.
The Japanese defender is on loan to the German club until the end of the season and there is a reporting claiming they could buy him from the Citizens.
German newspaper BILD say that Itakura would be available for a price of €5 million, if they can secure an immediate return back to the Bundesliga.
The report adds that a transfer looks ‘right on the money’ if the stipulations of the loan can be met.
They are well placed for a return to the top flight as they are currently third after 11 games played and are three points behind leaders St Pauli.
What’s the background?
Itakura was bought in January 2019 from Japanese side Kawasaki Frontale, but was immediately loaned out to Dutch outfit Groingen, where he excelled, spending two seasons on loan in the Eredivise.
Bought for a bargain price of around a reported £1 million, City would make profit on a player that hasn’t represented them in a competitive match.
The Citizens already have Ballon d’Or nominee Ruben Dias in their ranks, while Aymeric Laporte, Nathan Ake and John Stones are also at the club.
It is the challenge of displacing established Premier League defenders which increases the likelihood of Itakura’s move away from the Etihad.
He does have international pedigree though and has played in both the Copa America and the most recent Olympics in Tokyo.
Schalke and Man City have done a number of transfers over the years with Schalke buying Welsh attacker Rabbi Matondo in January 2019, while they also bought Matija Nastasic after a successful loan spell. City on the other hand purchased Leroy Sane in 2016 before selling him for profit to Bayern Munich.
As well as Itakura’s potential departure from Man City, there could be an off-the-field departure with Jason Wilcox linked with a move to Newcastle United.
Wilcox, the current academy director at City, is being considered for the Director of Football at St James Park, with further talks now set to take place according to the Daily Star. The report says that Wilcox is the best suited for the role and that his potential appointment will be prioritised over a replacement for Steve Bruce, so he can implement his ideas over the next manager.
Ajax’s Marc Overmars and Luis Campos, who oversaw Lille’s Ligue One title have also been primed for the role but Wilcox is the man that the Toon want.
The 50-year-old joined Man City in 2012 and has overseen a restructure of the academy which has brought success, such as the emergence of wonderkid Phil Foden.