Malaga CF is a club that has always stood out for being multicultural and cosmopolitan with fans from all over the world. Players from a number of nationalities have passed through the ranks, but until now never has a Japanese person worn the blue and white stripes.
The first will be a woman. Malaga announced on Monday that they have completed the signing of Chiba Minori, a 26-year-old defender who joins from Zaragoza CFF, and already has experience in the top flight of Spanish football.
"It is a pleasure to be in Malaga," she said on the video presentation of her transfer broadcast across social media.
The player has already been in the city for a number of months, getting to know the facilities and to complete the move and will join up with coach Antonio Carreras and the rest of the squad in August for the start of preseason.
A distinguished career
Minori first arrived in Spain in 2016 after she completed a move from Japanese side Urawa Red Ladies. Located in Saitama, the club has won their domestic title on various occasions and Minori was poached following one such success.
The new Malaga player became only the second Japanese player in the Spanish women's game, arriving a month afrer Maya Yamamoto signed for Valencia. Since then a total of nine Japanese players have starred in the Spanish first division.
Japan is a big name on the women's international scene having been crowned World Champions in 2011, while finishing Olympic runners-up in 2012 and losing World Cup finalists in 2015.
A pacy defender
Minori is quick and good with both feet (though is stronger on her right). She has already adapted to Spanish football and has great experience having started in the game aged eight.
Last season, however, was a difficult one both for Minori and her former side Zaragoza CFF, who were relegated after 13 years in the first division. The defender couldn't play a full part in the campaign having suffered a double fracture of the tibia in a game against Oiartzun in January 2017, returning only at the end of the recently-concluded season. Now the player will have another chance to shine in La Primera.
Minori is Malaga Femenino's third signing of the summer, following defender Marta Cazalla and forward Patricia Mascaró through La Rosaleda's doors.