BANGKOK • Diminutive midfielder Chanathip Songkrasin's star is clearly rising.
The Muangthong United midfielder on Monday secured a loan move to Japanese top-flight outfit Consadole Sapporo, less than 48 hours after playing a key role in Thailand's historic win in the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup.
The transfer to the newly promoted J-League side capped a remarkable year for the 23-year-old, who helped Muangthong clinch a Thai League and League Cup double in October.
He also played an integral part in helping Thailand retain the Suzuki Cup, and received the vote as the Most Valuable Player of the regional tournament.
The Thai team's successful title defence also attested to his professional attitude, since he was not distracted by the intense speculation about his move to the Sapporo-based club that surfaced just before the start of the AFF Championship.
Muangthong chairman Pongsak Pholanan said Chanathip will continue to play for the Thai League club in the opening half of the 2017 season to help them compete in the AFC Champions League (ACL) group stages, before joining Consadole on a 11/2-year loan deal.
"Today, we see the dream of a Thai footballer come true," Pongsak told a press conference at Muangthong's home ground on Monday.
"We'll have the first Thai player plying his trade in the J-League. We've been in contact (with Consadole) for a while. It's a process that has taken some time because never before has a Thai player moved to Japan.
"We had been very concerned about letting Chanathip join them when they were still in the second division since we believed he should play in the Japanese top flight.
"Once they won the second division to earn automatic promotion to the J-League, we managed to reach an agreement."
Pongsak added that Chanathip's loan move comes with an option to make the deal permanent.
"He will travel there in July and will to try to acclimatise. Right now it is too cold in Japan and that could pose a problem. This arrangement will allow him to play with us in the ACL," he said.
THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK