The Japan Times begins by confirming that Japanese international defender Tomoaki Makino is to return to Japan on loan following an unsuccessful season with Cologne. Makino will join Urawa Red Diamonds for further development. The 24 year-old centre-back left Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2010 after an excellent year in which he contributed seven goals in forty-three appearances, but made just five for the Bundesliga club.
The Samurai Blue will travel to Jordan for its 2012 Olympic Games qualifier against Syria, which continues to be wracked by civil unrest, notes The Daily Yomiuri. Japan, which currently leads Group C by three points from Syria, need only secure a single point from its two final games should they emerge victorious in Amman on 5 February.
The Daily Mainichi leads with the story that Tadanari Lee has agreed terms with Southampton FC. Lee, scorer of the winning goal in the 2011 AFC Asian Cup Final against Australia, will leave Sanfrecce Hiroshima for the title- and promoting-chasing Saints, who currently top the Npower Championship on goal difference from West Ham Utd.
Finally, Nippon Sports alerts readers to FIFA’s praise of Kashiwa Reysol’s right-back Hiroki Sakai. The 21 year-old defender, who was named Best Young Player of the Year in the J.League for 2011, was included in FIFA’s Players to watch in 2012.