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Football: Forlan to play in J-League for record wage

Uruguay international striker Diego Forlan has joined Cerezo Osaka from SC Internacional of Brazil on an estimated $5.8 million a year, a record for the increasingly austere J-League.

TOKYO: Uruguay international striker Diego Forlan has joined Cerezo Osaka from SC Internacional of Brazil on an estimated $5.8 million a year, a record for the increasingly austere J-League.

The 34-year-old has agreed to play for Cerezo in the upcoming March-December season, the club said in a statement posted on its website.

Forlan played 55 times and scored 22 goals for the Brazilian side he joined in July 2012.

He has previously played for big European clubs including Manchester United, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid.

At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, he was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player and was a joint top scorer with five goals.

Cerezo Osaka, where Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa cut his teeth, will pay Forlan an estimated annual wage of 600 million yen ($5.8 million), according to media reports.

That will break the previous J-League record of 300 million yen paid to former England striker Gary Lineker when he joined Nagoya Grampus in 1993, the J-League's inaugural year.

In the league's early years, its clubs spent lavishly to recruit the likes of Lineker, Zico and Pierre Littbarski.

But with limited attendance and unspectacular TV money, the league has had to manage without big names on its team sheets.

In 2013, Brazilian-Japanese defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka of Nagoya Grampus was the best paid J-League player with an annual wage of 160 million yen, according to local media.

Forlan will be the first big name in a long while to play in the J-League and his arrival is likely to liven up a national game that has seen many of its top talents decamp to Europe.

"Forlan can shoot at distance. He is also deft in front of goal," former Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura told the Tokyo Sports daily.

"The J-League has been without foreign players who also play for their countries," added the Yokohama Marinos star, 34, who retired from international football after the 2010 World Cup.

"I hope he will pump up the league with great performances."

Japan and Southampton defender Maya Yoshida said it was "amazing" that a player of Forlan's calibre would change club only months before the World Cup in Brazil.

Writing on his blog, he noted changes like that usually come after the tournament, adding: "This means he's dead serious."

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