Hertha Berlin sign Genki Haraguchi as Bundesliga adds another Japanese import

The 23-year-old Urawa Reds forward becomes the latest Japanese to sign on with a Bundesliga club, joining a group that includes Mainz's Shinji Okazaki and Schalke's Atsuto Uchida.

Hertha Berlin have signed Japan forward Genki Haraguchi from J-League leaders Urawa Red Diamonds on a four-year contract, the Bundesliga club said on Monday.

The 23-year-old Haraguchi, who has won three caps but is not a member of his country’s squad for next month’s World Cup, scored 33 goals in 162 J-League games and will join former Urawa teammate Hajime Hosogai in Berlin.

“Genki Haraguchi is a versatile forward who can play both left and right or in the centre,” Hertha sporting director Michael Preetz said in a statement.

“Obviously he will need to adapt and will need some time as everything is new for him,” Hertha coach Jos Luhukay said. “But with Hajime Hosogai he has a former (Urawa Red Diamonds) teammate who will help him adapt.”

Hertha finished in 11th place in the recently concluded Bundesliga season.

Haraguchi joins a list of notable Japanese in the Bundesliga that includes World Cup-bound Shinji Okazaki, who had a breakout year with Mainz, leading the club with 15 goals and finishing in a tie for seventh in the Bundesliga goal-scoring chart. It also includes his new Hertha Berlin teammate, midfielder Hosogai, who made a club-high 33 Bundesliga starts this year.

Gotoku Sakai (Stuttgart), Atsuto Uchida (Schalke), Hiroki Sakai (Hannover) and Takashi Inui (Eintracht Frankfurt) held down at least semi-regular roles in Germany in 2013/14, as well.

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Published: May 26, 2014 04:00 AM