Japan duo eye Europe move

Japan internationals Yasuhito Endo and Yuji Nakazawa have said they want to follow in Shunsuke Nakamura's footsteps and make a name for themselves in Europe.

The pair are among five players - along with Uzbekistan's Server Djeparov, Sebastian Soria of Qatar and the UAE's Ismail Matar - in contention to be named AFC Player of the Year at a ceremony on Tuesday.

Gamba Osaka's creative midfielder Endo is the frontrunner after guiding his team to the AFC Champions League title, and the 28-year-old would love to show that he is capable of playing in Europe.

"I'm more than willing to go to Europe but if I don't get an offer I can't go and I don't have an offer yet," said Endo, whose ability to score from midfield has been a major factor in his success with club and country.

Winning the AFC Player of the Year award has shown previously that it can open doors with last year's victor Yasser Al Qahtani being handed a trial with Manchester City.

I'm 30 but I want to prove that I can still be competitive even at my age.
Yuji Nakazawa.

The Saudi Arabia striker eventually turned down their offer, citing contractual issues. Wigan Athletic have since shown an interest in him. Yokohama Marinos defender Nakazawa has won almost every individual award available in Japanese football, and a stint in Europe would put the icing on the cake.

"If there was a chance to play in Europe I'd love to play there," he said. "I'm 30 but I want to prove that I can still be competitive even at my age."

Soria, born in Uruguay but now a naturalised Qatari, almost moved to Spain last season from Qatar Sports Club and is again eyeing offers for 2009.

"For players, you have to have ambition and it is very important to have a chance to play in Europe," said the 22-year-old. "Last season I had the opportunity to go to Spain but I'm still looking for the best option for my future. I'll go if the right offer is made."