REAL MADRID’s Club World Final tormentor Gaku Shibasaki has set his sights on La Liga – after it emerged he will become a free agent in 13 days.
The Japanese playmaker, 24, has been with Kashima his entire career but is set for a move when his contract runs out at the end of December.
Shibasaki scored twice as Kashima stunned Madrid with a quickfire double either side of half time – but were eventually beaten 4-2 after extra-time following a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick.
Clubs in Germany and Spain wanted to sign the midfielder in the summer window but he opted to stay in Japan for another season and reaped the reward as Kashima romped to the title.
He said before today’s final: “We as professional players have the responsibility to make the youngest dream. I will do everything possible to make everyone who will see us play tomorrow dream.
“Japanese football does not enjoy the same attention as Europe, and I believe at least we would need 10 more years to be at that level.
We would like to aim to be the Japanese Real Madrid.”
Shibakasi was named the best rookie in 2012’s J1 league, while last year he entered in the top XI of the same competition.
The technical playmaker can play in a variety of positions through the middle and started the game against Real as a centre forward, despite spending a lot of his time in this season’s J-League as a deep-lying midfielder.
Shibasaki helped himself to four goals and 11 assists back home during 2016, and has been compared to Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta on account of his pinpoint passes and influential presence in the middle of the park.