Sapporo courting Ono to return to Japan
Western Sydney Wanderers say they do not want to sell their star player Shinji Ono amid moves by Consadole Sapporo to take him back to Japan, reports said Saturday.
The J-League division two side, who missed the promotion play-offs by two points this season, tendered an approach that was rejected by the Wanderers this week, Fairfax Media said.
However the newspaper said that playmaker Ono, who has been a big success in his two seasons in the A-League, is tempted to return to his homeland, and Sapporo are considering improving their bid in next month's transfer window.
"But with the Wanderers in no mood to sell, Sapporo would have to bid more than Aus$500,000 ($446,000) for a player Western Sydney recruited for nothing last year," The Sydney Morning Herald said.
Club chief executive John Tsatsimas said Ono would not be going anywhere.
"It's quite simple from our perspective," Tsatsimas told the Herald.
"We're not even interested in entertaining any thoughts about releasing Shinji or anyone else. We've got a busy and hectic time coming up, and Shinji is a fundamental part of that.
"With the AFC Champions League just around the corner, we've only got a couple of weeks to finalise our squad and we're right to go.
"We're not even exploring their offer or looking for a new bid. There's no discussion. We're happy with Shinji, and we plan to keep him."
Ono, who is out of contract at the end of this season, has not been offered a new deal as yet, adding to speculation the club could move to cash in.
Ono was coy when asked whether he would leave the Wanderers.
"I don't want to comment about this question actually," he said. "But if you're a football player, if you know some club's offer to me is good, I'm very happy. But ... I'd love to stay with the Wanderers."
Ono, 34, who has not played for the Japanese national team since 2008, has netted nine goals in 35 A-League games.
The Daily Telegraph said Ono had agreed to a three-year term with Consadole Sapporo but it was up to Wanderers to release the Japanese marvel during the January transfer window.
Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph said former Japan international striker Naohiro Takahara is on Melbourne Victory's radar.
The newspaper cited Japanese sources as saying Takahara was willing to sign for two-time A-League champions Victory after recently ending his season with J-2 club Tokyo Verdy.