Uruguay striker Diego Forlan vowed Wednesday to rediscover his killer goal-scoring instinct as he arrived in Japan to play for Cerezo Osaka in a season which straddles the World Cup.
“I believe I will be required to do what I have done for other teams. That is to give what I have and score as many goals as possible,” said Forlan, voted best player at the 2010 World Cup and its joint top scorer with five goals.
He has joined the J-League side from SC Internacional of Brazil on an estimated annual salary of $5.9 million, a record for the increasingly cost-conscious league, and will play in the March-December season.
Cerezo finished fourth last season and “I will work hard in matches to help Osaka produce better results”, the 34-year-old told a news conference in Osaka through an interpreter hours after his arrival.
“When I received an offer through my agent, I felt a strong will and a passion on the part of the Cerezo people. That is a major reason for coming here,” he said.
“There are many young players (in Cerezo) and I want to help them further improve their quality by joining the club.”
Forlan played 55 times and scored 22 goals for the Brazilian side he joined in July 2012. He previously played for major European clubs including Manchester United, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid.
But Forlan’s playing time at Internacional was limited recently. He last played for the side in a regular match about two months ago.
Forlan described Japan as a “wonderful country” and said its players have “high technical levels and speed, and play very fine football”.
Media reports say Cerezo will pay him 600 million yen ($5.9 million) a year.
That will break the previous J-League record of 300 million yen for former England striker Gary Lineker when he joined Nagoya Grampus in 1993, the J-League’s inaugural year.
In the league’s early years, its clubs spent lavishly to recruit the likes of Lineker, Zico and Pierre Littbarski. But with limited attendances and unspectacular TV money, it has had to manage without big names on its team sheets.
In 2013 Brazilian-Japanese defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka of Nagoya Grampus was the best paid J-League player with an annual salary of 160 million yen, according to local media.
Forlan will be the first big name in a long while to play in the league, and his arrival is likely to enliven a national game that has seen much of its top talent decamp to Europe.