Fernando Torres to pass on MLS, Australia to join Japanese side Sagan Tosu
Former Atletico Madrid and Spain forward Fernando Torres has announced that he has agreed to join Japanese club Sagan Tosu and expects to make his debut for them later this month.
With his time at boyhood club Atletico coming to an end last month, Torres had been linked with destinations including the Chicago Fire in MLS and Australian A-League club Sydney FC, but opted for Japan's J-League.
"My new team will be Sagan Tosu in Japan," the 34-year-old said in Madrid. "Yesterday we signed the contract. They were one of the first clubs to show interest in me, and I appreciate their insistence and how they convinced me with their sporting, personal and cultural project.
"They wanted me on a football level, which was one of the most important things. I am joining up next week and hoping to start as soon as possible with my new teammates, playing games and scoring goals.
"I hope to make my debut, at home, on July 21, then to be there for many years. How long will depend on my sporting performance.
"I wanted to take time to enjoy my last days at Atletico and then reflect on what was best for me and for my family. There were many options, different offers from all the continents. I had offers from France, Germany, other clubs in Spain, but I did not want to join another European club as I had the best end possible here with my team.
"I wanted something completely different, a change. I like to take risky decisions, to face challenges. It is a small team from a humble area which has gone to the top in its country, which attracts me too."
Former Spain teammate Andres Iniesta, who joined Vissel Kobe from Barcelona, will also be playing in the J-League and Torres said that meant he would already have a good friend in the competition.
"It is an exciting challenge for both of us. I will do everything I can to help this team. We hope to do great things there, and hopefully can bring many things and teach many things," he said.
"At the moment I am not thinking of being a coach. I feel I can be a player for many more years, but who knows in future."
Sagan Tosu president Minoru Takehara was present at the announcement, posing with Torres as he held the No. 9 shirt he he will wear next season.
Torres, who won the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2010 European Championships with Spain, scored 38 goals in 110 appearances for his country and struck 118 times in two spells at Atletico.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan