Bought by Manchester City from Kawasaki Frontale back in 2019 for just under £1m, Ko Itakura has since been loaned out at FC Groningen for the past two seasons.

The Japanese defender has been a regular with the Dutch side throughout, and has yet to miss a minute of league football this campaign as the club sit comfortably in mid table in the Eredivisie.

As comfortable as he is there, Itakura’s days with Groningen are already being counted, as the club prepare their future without him, wanting to bring in his replacement as early as January.

This was announced by their technical director Mark-Jan Fledderus on Wednesday, relayed by Voetbal International: “What is paramount is that we are extremely satisfied with this group and the way which it is developing. What we are looking at is the position of centre-back, especially with an eye to the future. We are loaning Ko Itakura from Manchester City, and it’s expected that won’t be available to us after this season”.

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The Dutch website give a little bit of background to this statement in the paragraph below, explaining that while the City loanee is considered a ‘stronghold’ by Groningen, he still has an ongoing contract at the Etihad.

Furthermore, ’it’s expected that Manchester City will want to sell him in the summer or to loan him at a higher level’.

Anything about £1m would be a profit for the Premier League side, and with his performances this year showcasing his ability, they would likely get more than that should they sell him for good.

What his future holds remains to be seen, but, unfortunately for Groningen, it seems far away from the Hitachi Capital Mobility Stadion.