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Saturday, January 31, 2009
Strachan to let Nakamura leave in summer

Gordon Strachan has given Shunsuke Nakamura his blessing to quit Celtic at the end of the season - but wants a Japanese holiday in return.

Midfielder Nakamura, 30, has expressed a desire to return to his homeland and raise his young family there after four trophy-laden years at Parkhead.

Strachan insists the Japan star - who struggles with the long journeys to and from international matches - has not approached him personally about a move.

But he will not stand in Nakamura's way should the player ask to return to his first senior club, Yokohama Marinos, this summer.

''Naka's never said he's going back,'' Strachan said.

''He hasn't mentioned his future plans. But if he said to me, 'I want to go home to play in Japan and show everybody what I've learnt playing at Celtic and overseas', we would just have to say, 'Thank you very much, it's been a great experience' - and hopefully get a holiday in Tokyo out of it.''

Strachan insists that, despite his talismanic qualities, Nakamura is not irreplaceable.

He said: ''How many can you not replace at a club like Celtic? Jock Stein, Jimmy Johnstone, and Henrik Larsson perhaps. There are not many you can't replace.''

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