Celtic's Nakamura close to return to Japan

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Only financial formalities stand between Celtic ace Shunsuke Nakamura and his dream return to Yokohama F. Marinos, it would appear.

Despite Celtic manager Gordon Strachan's insistence that \Nakamura was a loyal Bhoy would would put his club before his personal wishes, the midfielder's January move home to Japan continues to gather steam.

The fiery gaffer told the told the Daily Record last weekend, "Knowing Shunsuke, he would not upset anyone at this club one way or another. I think he'd put the team before himself."

However, the impatient 30-year-old had previously admitted: "A move in January might be possible. If I was Scottish, sure, I'd love to play at Celtic forever, but I'm Japanese and I also have a family and kids."

Celtic's Champions League campaign, the demands of the Japanese national team and forays to his homeland to spend time with his young family have alerted the Tricolours recently, who are desperate to bring the set-piece maestro to the J-League.

A Yokohama F. Marinos official re-iterated,"It's a matter of how soon the club can get ready for the move financially. That will depend on when we get the nod from our parent company, Nissan."

The automobile giants are said to be readying an $8 million-plus warchest and the Hoops will surely struggle to turn down a big-money offer for an unsettled player who's sure to leave in the summer anyway.

Another major player in the potential deal is said to be sportswear giant Nike, which manufactures both the Celtic and Marinos shirts. They understand that Nakamura shifts a lot of merchandise both in Scotland and in his homeland and are said to be monitoring the situation closely.

The 2009 J-League season begins in March and, should he move as expected in the New Year, Nakamura could be in for a significantly extended stint. The Scottish season will already have taken five months out of him by the time the January transfer window creaks open.