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Chairman: VVV Venlo a European stepping stone for Japanese players

VVV Venlo chairman Hai Berden is hoping to continue using the Dutch club as a possible pathway into Europe for Asian players.

The Eerste Divisie (second division) club currently house Japanese midfielder Yuki Otsu but has previously been the home to AC Milan's Keisuke Honda and Southampton's Maya Yoshida.

Venlo did well financially from the 2010 sale of Honda to CSKA Moscow, pulling in around £5million, while offloading Yoshida to the Saints in 2012 also filled the coffers to the tune of £3m.

Berden is currently on the lookout for more talent from the Land of the Rising Sun and is hoping to bring some promising Japanese types to the southeast of Holland with the lure of potentially moving on to bigger and better things in Europe.

"I see Venlo for the Japanese as a stepping stone. Stay there 18 months or two years and then move to a bigger club. I think it is easier to start with a smaller club than a big club," Berden told Kyodo News in a recent interview.

"Venlo is in a good location," he added of the city which sits on the border of Holland and Germany, near Dusseldorf.

"The Dusseldorf-Venlo area is huge for the settlement of Japanese companies and residents so players like to be in that kind of region because they can go to Japanese restaurants and have many friends. They can feel comfortable in that area.

"The second thing is that VVV is not a big club and I make it clear to players that when you go to Europe it takes quite a long time to adapt to our living style, culture and it is better to do that with a small club because then at least you can play.

"If you go to Chelsea, you might not even make the bench and will be outside of the team. But when they come to VVV they can learn, they can understand our culture and our system and our language, then after that they can make the next step."

VVV currently sit third in Holland's second tier, 11 points off leaders Dordrecht, ahead of the weekend's home clash with ninth-placed Emmen.

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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