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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 20, 2008

Japan midfielder Matsui joins St Etienne

TOKYO, May 20 (Reuters) - Japan midfielder Daisuke Matsui completed a switch from Le Mans to French Ligue 1 rivals St Etienne on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old, who scored five goals in 34 games for Le Mans last season, has signed a three-year deal with his new club.

'The thought of playing in front of a full stadium was the main factor,' Matsui told a news conference in Nagoya.

'I've been in France for four years and it was time for a change.'

Matsui joins on a free transfer from Le Mans, a club he signed for when they were still in the second division.

Le Mans were promoted to Ligue 1 in 2005 and Matsui played the last three seasons for them in the top flight, becoming one of their most valued players.

St Etienne, who have won a record 10 French titles, finished fifth in Ligue 1 to qualify for the UEFA Cup.

'The opportunity to play in Europe was very attractive obviously,' Matsui added.

'It will be a great experience to play against good teams from countries like England and Spain.'

Matsui is in Japan for Kirin Cup friendlies against Ivory Coast and Paraguay in preparation for his country's run of four World Cup qualifiers in June.

The Japan squad are based in Nagoya ahead of Saturday's game against Ivory Coast in nearby Toyota.

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