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Japan’s Tanaka links up with Leverkusen

Cologne: Another Japanese star has made the move to Europe, with national team forward Mina Tanaka joining Bayer Leverkusen on loan on Tuesday.

The four-time Nadeshiko League Golden Boot winner will be part of the German club’s first-team squad until June 30 after arriving from INAC Kobe Leonessa.

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Tanaka, 26, follows national team colleagues Mana Iwabuchi and Yui Hasegawa in swapping Japan for Europe in recent weeks, with the WE League – the newly formed Japanese women’s professional league – not scheduled to begin until the second half of 2021.

A 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup winner who boasts a phenomenal scoring record of more than 180 goals in Japanese domestic football, Tanaka revealed her joy at completing the move, her first to an overseas club.

"I’m very happy and proud to be able to play in Germany and for Bayer 04,” said the 2019 AFC Women’s Club Championship winner.

“I am very happy to accept this challenge. I’ve been able to follow the team’s development over the past few months and identify with the club very well. I will do everything I can to help the team achieve their goals.”

Bayer currently sit fifth on the Frauen-Bundesliga table, with the top three clubs to qualify for the 2021-22 UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Tanaka’s loan spell will conclude three weeks prior to the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games, where Asako Takakura’s Japan side will target a gold medal on home soil.

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