Manchester City defender Ko Itakura is close to leaving the club after travelling to finalise a loan transfer to Schalke, which could become permanent, according to reports.
Various sources in Germany, including Sport1 and the German branch of Sky Sports, indicate that Itakura is due to undergo a medical tomorrow. It will be another temporary exit for Itakura. He spent the last two seasons on loan at Groningen in the Netherlands.
The Japan international is yet to play for City since joining them in 2019. Despite building up regular gametime in the Eredivisie, there is still no room for him back at the Etihad Stadium.
Itakura frequently plays as a centre-back, which is a position City have plenty of cover for. Therefore, they have decided to send him away again – although this time he could be gone for good.
Sky have reported that Itakura will join Schalke on loan with the option to buy for €4m. Should all go to plan, City could end up with a minor windfall for a player they have never used.
Itakura played no part for City in pre-season after being involved at the Olympics for hosts Japan. And with just one year left on his contract anyway, it seems he never will get to pull on the sky blue shirt.
Instead, he will be wearing a darker blue jersey for Schalke, who are playing in the German second tier this season following their relegation.
Previous reports suggested Itakura could have had a chance of finding a different club in the UK. Scottish giants Celtic were reportedly keen to sign the 24-year-old. However, with a medical for Schalke now pencilled in, they look to have missed out.
City starlet set for loan
With the season now underway, City are looking to trim their squad by finding opportunities for some fringe players.
Another who could depart on loan is teenage striker Liam Delap, who has several suitors in the Championship.
It is likely that City will let him leave on loan so he can develop, although Derby are not his only admirers. The likes of Millwall, Middlesbrough, Birmingham City and West Brom have also been linked with Delap.
City could consider approaches for him by the end of the window as he aims to make a breakthrough at senior level.