Ienaga determined to wow Mallorca fans
Japanese midfielder Akihiro Ienaga was presented Thursday to fans at Real Mallorca Thursday, saying he felt determined to make an impression at his new club. "I know that I will be under pressure, but I want to succeed here in Mallorca, where I'm told you can live well," he told a news conference.
Mallorca announced earlier this month they had signed the 24-year-old on a contract until 2015 with a buyout clause of €18 million (24 million USD).
"Japanese players are very quick and have a good technique," said Mallorca's Danish coach Michael Laudrup, who has played in Japan's top division, the J-League. "To go to Spain will help him to improve as this championship is much more demanding. It's what Mallorca wants at the moment, players who can do something now and in future too".
Mallorca's deputy chairman Lorenzo Serra Ferrer described him as player who is "technically very good, who is good with either foot, a great passer, accurate and fast."
As Real Mallorca already have three players from outside the European Union in their squad, the maximum allowed, Ienaga may be loaned to another club in the short term. "We have offers from top clubs in Holland and Germany and also top Spanish second division teams, but we aim to keep him, as he has the quality to play for Mallorca, that's why we signed him," said Ferrer.
He denied that signing was a move by the club to enter the Asian market. "Our first objective is to football, but if through this contract the club becomes better known in Asia, then so much the better."
Ienaga, has played for Japan only once, in 2007. He scored four goals in four appearances with J-League side Cerezo Osaka this season, and will be the second Japanese national to have played for Mallorca after Yoshito Okubo.
Apart from Okubo, three other Japanese have played in La Liga, with little success - Shoji Jo at Real Valladolid in 1999-2000, Akinori Nishizawa at Espanyol in 2001 and Shunsuke Nakamura at Espanyol in 2009-2010.
The club, based on the holiday island of Mallorca in the Mediterranean, are in 10th place in the 20-team Spanish standings with 21 points, 22 fewer than leaders and defending league champions Barcelona.