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I want to play as a striker - Okazaki explains impending Leicester departure

Shinji Okazaki

London, April 30: Shinji Okazaki has confirmed he will leave Leicester City when his contract expires at the end of the season as he wants to find a club where he can play as a striker.

The 33-year-old has made just one Premier League start this season and was reportedly the subject of a failed bid from Huddersfield Town in January.

After playing an important role in the Foxes shocking the world by winning the Premier League title in his first season at the King Power Stadium, playing 36 times and scoring five goals, Okazaki has seen his game time decrease.

The Japanese has grown frustrated at playing deeper than he would like and hopes to be back in familiar territory with a move away.

"My 30th birthday was in the midst of the challenge for the Premier League title," he said in quotes reported by the Leicester Mercury.

"It was my first season at Leicester. What I chose to get out of the game was the job of linking the defence and the attack, and it resulted in the first title of my life.

"However, although there was some sense of accomplishment, the satisfaction was not as big as I thought.

"Even though I was a forward, I was actually playing like a midfielder. It was seen as my strength, but I thought that was dangerous.

"My role at Leicester is definitely not a striker. It feels like I am seen as a midfielder. I feel that I am not a midfielder when I see the high ability of a professional midfielder with their skill level.

"So I have decided to leave Leicester. It is because I thought strongly that I would like to challenge next season in a place where I can play as a striker.

"There have been few opportunities for playing this season."

After starting his career at Shimizu S-Pulse in the J1 League, Okazaki spent four-and-a-half years in the Bundesliga with Stuttgart and Mainz.

He joined Leicester in June 2015 as Claudio Ranieri assembled a team that surpassed all expectations, but nearly four years later Okazaki is ready for a fresh start.

"I will make my decision on my next destination based on 'can I play as a striker?'" he said. "It will be more interesting to play in a place where that is possible.

"I am 33 now and that's how I feel. It's time to start from scratch. I am aware that I am at an age called a veteran, but I don't feel it.

"Before showing leadership in a team, I would like to show my existence as a goalscorer."

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Story first published: Tuesday, April 30, 2019, 14:50 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 30, 2019
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