Midfielder Mu Kanazaki is hopeful of playing for Kashima Antlers again one day, after returning to his parent club of Portimonense SC on Monday.
The 26-year-old spent a season and a half at the Portuguese second-division club, scoring 16 goals in 47 appearances before being loaned to Antlers in early 2015.
Kanazaki quickly re-established himself in his first J.League campaign since 2012, scoring nine league goals and five more in the team’s triumphant Yamazaki Nabisco Cup-winning campaign.
The former Nagoya Grampus and Oita Trinita player also gained the attention of Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic, earning his first senior call-up since 2010 and an appearance in last November’s FIFA 2018 World Cup-qualifying win against Singapore.
“It’s been an honour to play for Kashima Antlers,” Kanazaki said following the announcement. “It was a terrific feeling to play in front of such great supporters and win a title with this squad.
“Now I want to continue on my path, but I hope that one day I’ll have an opportunity to return to Kashima Stadium.”
Kanazaki will rejoin a Portimonense side who are currently in sixth place in the Segunda Liga with 42 points, just one point off securing promotion to the Portuguese Primeira Liga.