Defender excited by Saints challenge

Japan defender Maya Yoshida

Maya Yoshida is excited by the new challenge facing him at Southampton after making his debut at Arsenal on Saturday, The Southern Daily Echo reports.

The 24-year-old arrives at St Mary’s after spending two years at Dutch Eredivisie side VVV Venlo, and is helped by the fact he speaks fluent English and has fellow compatriot Tadanari Lee with him at the club.

Yoshida captained Japan to a fourth-place finish in this summer’s Olympics and is marshalling the centre of the defence in his country’s charge to World Cup qualification.

He told the Daily Echo: “I’m really excited to play for Saints in the Premier League, but first I have to know what I should do and how the team are going to play.”

Yoshida was thrown straight into the deep end in his first-ever Premier League appearance, coming on as a substitute in the 6-1 drubbing at the Emirates, but admits he chose a move to the Premier League in order to challenge himself.

“I think the Premier League is a much, much higher level than the Eredivisie, so I have to get used to the speed and physicality,” he added.

He is aware of the club’s financial problems in the past and their seven-year struggle to return to the top-flight, but was impressed by the ambition of the south coast side.

“There are new owners and they have good ambitions, and I have also,” he added.