SHUNSUKE NAKAMURA has revealed he could leave Celtic in the January transfer window. The club took up a one-year option on the Japanese midfielder in June but the 30-year-old has admitted that his agent Roberto Takuda has been in talks with Japanese clubs about a return to his homeland in time for the start of the new season, which runs from March to December.
Nakamura, who joined Celtic from Reggina for 2.7m in August 2005, scored in Japan's 3-2 win over Bahrain last week as they kicked off their World Cup qualifying campaign. International commitments will take him to Uzbekistan next month before home qualifiers against Australia and Bahrain in February and March.
The player, whose agent is believed to have held talks with Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell last month, admits his personal circumstances – his second child is only six months old – and the demands of playing for his country are exacting a toll.
Asked if he could leave midway through the season, Nakamura said: "That is a possibility. My agent will take care of everything and if I were Scottish, then I'd love to play here forever. But I'm Japanese with a wife and kids.
"I also have to think about the international team as well and I'm finding it quite hard travelling back and forward all the time. That kind of thing makes me think I need to go back to Japan. My agent has already spoken to a few teams in Japan but there is time if it's needed because of the option."
Nakamura reiterated his oft-stated line that he would remain at Celtic "until Peter says he doesn't need me". It is unlikely that Gordon Strachan will believe he could dispense with the services of his most beloved player midway through a campaign.
But with Shaun Maloney at the club, Celtic may feel they have a natural replacement and could be willing to accept a fee for Nakamura if his agent pleads a strong case for a return in the next transfer window.
Meanwhile, sources in Japan say that Koki Mizuno could be set for a swift return to Japanese football. The 23-year-old right-sided performer has yet to make a senior competitive outing for Celtic since his move from JEF United in January.
It is understood that his old club want him back. Mizuno rejected a move in the last transfer window but now, having failed to be named in the club's 25-man squad for the forthcoming Champions League campaign, the four-times capped internationalist could be ready to head back to his homeland.