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Report: Yuto Nagatomo heading to Galatasaray on loan

Today is a day many thought would never come.

ACF Fiorentina v FC Internazionale - Serie A Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

As the clock continues to tick down towards 11pm on Wednesday 31 January, Inter appear to have finalised their second departure of the month.

FC Internazionale v AS Roma - Serie A
Yuto Nagatomo is in search of more playing time ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

With Joao Mario having left the Nerazzurri last week to join West Ham on loan for the rest of the season, reports on Tuesday suggest that Yuto Nagatomo will also be leaving the club on a temporary basis, some 2556 days after signing from Cesena in January 2011.

According to Sky Sport and Premium Sport, Nagatomo is set to sign for Turkish side Galatasaray as he attempts to guarantee himself as much game-time as possible ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

Luciano Spalletti did not close the door on an eventual departure when asked about the rumours of him leaving in his press conference on Saturday, and sure enough it looks as if Inter’s longest serving player will be packing his bags over the next 24 hours.

Premium Sport report that Galatasaray will sign the Japanese international on an initial six-month loan worth €1m, with an option to buy at the end of the season for around €7m.

The player’s agent, Federico Pastorello, is expected to fly out to Istanbul on Tuesday evening to talk with the club in first person and close the deal. Inter will not contribute to the payment of his wages.

Nagatomo has made 211 appearances for Inter since joining the club almost exactly seven years ago, scoring 11 goals and lifting one trophy during that time (the Coppa Italia in 2011).

While this is evidently a move that suits Nagatomo, in that he will be able to play more before heading to Russia in June, the most plausible interpretation of why this deal is happening from Inter’s point of view concerns Javier Pastore, a man Matt wrote about here.

Paris Saint Germain v Montpellier Herault SC - Ligue 1
Can Inter club together sufficient funds to seal a last-minute deal for Javier Pastore?
Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images

With Suning unwilling to invest new money into the club until the summer, Piero Ausilio and Walter Sabatini are scrabbling around in the last 48 hours of the transfer window trying to recoup as much as possible from player sales.

Should Nagatomo’s loan really be worth €1m then Inter would have a bit more room for manoeuvre with Paris Saint-Germain, who are willing to give Pastore on loan but only if they’re offered guarantees regarding an eventual permanent signing.

An initial loan worth around €5-6m might be enough to convince the French giants to concede an option to buy instead of an obligation, as at that point they could be fairly certain of Inter’s intentions of signing Pastore permanently (officially Inter cannot complete operations with obligations to buy at the moment, because UEFA would not permit it given the Nerazzurri’s current Financial Fair Play situation).

Time will tell. In the mean-time, it looks like it’s time to say good-bye (if only on a temporary basis - there’s no guarantee he’ll be bought out at the end of the season) to Inter’s longest serving player in the current squad.

But our last-minute wheeling and dealing isn’t finished yet...

*** UPDATE AT 21:45 CET***: According to FcInter1908, the formula of the Nagatomo-Galatasaray deal is a straight loan, with no option or obligation to buy. We can therefore expect the player to return at the end of the season. Whether or not Galatasaray will be paying Inter for the loan remains unclear, but one would assume they are.