Stuttgart set to seal Okazaki signing
Stuttgart are closing in on the signing of Japan striker Shinji Okazaki from Shimizu S-Pulse, as the Bundesliga side look to inject some life into their foundering season.
The 2007 German champions are currently languishing in the relegation zone, five points away from safety, and are looking to give their squad a much needed boost by bringing in some new faces in January.
First up will be 24-year-old Okazaki, who played in all four of Japan's World Cup games - scoring in the Blue Samurai's group stage victory over Denmark.
And though Stuttgart's problem has generally been in defence - they have scored 35 goals, more than second-placed Mainz - coach Bruno Labbadia welcomed Okazaki's arrival.
"He is a very versatile player who can play across the board in attack," Labbadia said. "But we will have to wait and see. He would miss the entire preparation and the first three games of the second half of the season due to the Asian Cup. Nevertheless, it is a good step to sign him.''
Okazaki is due in Stuttgart early next month to undergo a medical, according to Bild; he is out of contract with the Japanese J-League side and could therefore move to the Bundesliga on a free transfer.
Stuttgart will be hoping that Okazaki can settle in quickly in Germany, and make a similar impact to Japan team-mate Shinji Kagawa, who has scored eight Bundelsiga goals and been instrumental in Borussia Dortmund's rise to the top of the league this season.