Before the Saudi Pro League, before the Chinese Super League, before the MLS, there was another league that many believed would be the future of world football.
Japan’s J-League was formed in 1992 and opened with a big boom period – with former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger famously managing Nagoya Grampus Eight before moving to the London club.
Despite those initial early successes and hype, the reality hasn’t quite been the same.
Recently, Japan came back into the view of world football fans when Barcelona and Spain legend Andres Iniesta announced he’d be leaving the Catalan side and moving to Japan to join J-League side Vissel Kobe.
And now it seems that another former Spain international will be following his footsteps in moving to Vissel Kobe.
That’s according to The Athletic, who claim that former Chelsea and Manchester United star Juan Mata will be moving to Japan and joining the J-League side’s Vissel Kobe.
Mata was most recently playing in Turkey for Galatasaray and has turned down offers from Saudi and the United Arab Emirates to move to Japan.
Mata was brought to United by former manager David Moyes and left The Red Devils in 2022 when his contract expired. The Spaniard is seen as one of the nicest guys in football after he pledged 1%of his salary to a pledge-based charitable movement named Common Goal, and called for other football players to do the same.