Atsuto Uchida leaves Schalke to join Union Berlin

1. FC Union Berlin announced on Monday that they had completed the signing of defender Atsuto Uchida from Schalke 04.

The Japanese international leaves the Royal Blues after serving them for seven years and will provide competition for Christopher Trimmel at the Alte Försterei. The 29-year-old has signed a deal until the end of the season.

Two years of injury hell

Uchida joins Schalke from Japanese club Kashima Antlers in the summer of 2010 and for five seasons he was first choice at right-back, making 104 appearances in the Bundesliga and a further 49 in the DFB-Pokal, UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. He also has 74 caps for his country.

However the latter part of his time in Gelsenkirchen was severely affected by injury, particularly with patellar and adductor problems. After a brief appearance in Schalke’s memorable 4-3 win over Real Madrid in March 2015, when Roberto Di Matteo was still in charge, he would appear only once more, for just nine minutes, in a UEFA Europa League match against Red Bull Salzburg last December.

Despite fighting his way back to fitness towards the end of last season, he couldn’t find a way back into the team, with Schalke’s sporting director Christian Heidel confirming that Uchida wanted to leave in order to pursue regular first team football again.

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Uchida can’t wait to play again

Uchida is now reunited with Jens Keller, his former boss at Schalke. Upon confirmation of the move, he said that he is “curious about what awaits me here.” He added they had been “following” the club’s progress, and that “the ambition of the club is obvious.” Needless to say, he is looking forward “to finally playing football again.”

Helmut Schulte, head of first team football at Union Berlin, said that by signing Uchida they had ended their “long search for a right-back,” and that they had acquired “a very experienced player.” He firmly believes that he will “make us even stronger” a team.

Uchida has been assigned the number two shirt, and after a full pre-season with his former club, will hope to make his first appearance for his new side against current 2. Bundesliga leaders Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday.

Quotes via 1. FC Union Berlin.