Brendan Rodgers says Shinji Okazaki decided to leave Leicester City for a slower pace of football as he moves towards the end of his career.
The Japan international became a real fans’ favourite after four years at the King Power Stadium but, at 33, is looking to settle into a less high-octane footballing environment.
Rodgers said he isn’t sure whether Okazaki has decided on his next club yet, but could hardly speak higher of his professionalism and commitment to the club.
“It is respecting his desires and at the stage of his career, he is 33 and has been a wonderful servant here,” Rodgers told LeicestershireLive .
“He is world renowned now because of his story with Leicester City, but he wants to go back to playing as a striker and have that opportunity.
“He is in the latter stages of his career. From the outside watching him you could see his honesty, the type of player he is and the quality he has, but actually it is only when you work with him on a day-to-day basis you find out he is a star.
“He gets on with his work, is very low maintenance and is ready when you need him.”
Having already spent time in Germany with Stuttgart and Mainz, it is thought Okazaki might see his next challenge in southern Europe, potentially in Serie A or La Liga.
Whatever his destination, he is keen to return to a more attacking role than he was generally deployed in at Leicester, having made his name as an out-and-out forward.
“As a striker you are judged on your goals in your game,” Rodgers said.
“Here he played more as a third midfield player, where he could link the game between the midfield and Jamie (Vardy).
“He is also very clever in his pressing. He can press. However, he sees his strengths and his positioning as a striker and unfortunately here that opportunity would be limited, but also I think he is keen to try in another country.
“I am sure wherever he goes he will be a great success. I don’t know where and I don’t think even he knows yet.
“He feels it is probably time to move on but his contribution will never be forgotten.
“He is honest and every day he works so hard. He does it all with an energy, enthusiasm and a smile.”
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