Hannover 96 have announced the signing of Kashiwa Reysol right back Hiroki Sakai for an undisclosed amount. The Japanese international will join the club on a four-year deal.
Sakai, 22, was named the J. League Best Young Player of the Year in 2011. He signed his first professional contract with the Sun Kings in 2009 as an 18-year-old after spending six years in the club's youth system. Sakai made his first-team debut in 2009, contributing five goals and 13 assists in 61 appearances. He helped the club to their first ever J. League Championship in 2011, just one year after securing promotion from the J. League Division 2.
The defender has received three caps for the Japanese national team and will play for Japan this summer at the Summer Olympics in London before joining the club for preseason training in early August. With many of Hannover's defenders aging, he is a signing for the future and a potential successor to Steve Cherundolo.
Sakai joins an ever-growing list of Japanese players who ply their trade in the Bundesliga. He's the second young international to join this summer after Hiroshi Kiyotake signed with Nürnberg.