Nakamura set for Espanyol switch

TOKYO - Celtic midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura is poised to snub his former Japanese J-League club and join Spain's Espanyol, local media reported on Sunday. Nakamura's boyhood club Yokohama F-Marinos had hoped to re-sign the 30-year-old until the interest from Spain, with Espanyol now emerging as favourites to land the Japan playmaker. "Dragging out this saga makes a problem for the team," Yokohama manager Kokichi Kimura told Japan's Sankei Sports newspaper. "I believe (Nakamura) will come." Nakamura's agent, however, has flown to Spain to meet officials of Espanyol, who have reportedly made a formal offer to bring the biggest name in Japanese soccer to their club. Nakamura, who will leave Celtic for free at the end of June when his contract expires, has also been linked with Atletico Madrid in both the Japanese and Spanish media. Neither club are likely to meet Nakamura's wages demands although both could probably outbid Yokohama, while the player has made no secret of his desire to play in Spain. Nakamura left Yokohama for Italy's Reggina in 2002 before signing for Celtic three years later. He won three Scottish Premier League titles with Celtic and picked up Player of the Year honours in 2006-07. Yokohama shelved plans for a bold swoop for Nakamura in January's transfer window with backers Nissan Motor Co feeling the pinch from the global economic downturn.