Wataru Endo has left VfB Stuttgart with immediate effect to join Liverpool. VfB have agreed to the player’s request to move clubs and will receive a transfer fee for their 30-year-old former captain.
VfB sporting director Fabian Wohlgemuth: “In Wataru Endo, VfB are losing a large part of their identity. I can fully understand the reaction among our fans. Wataru has become a legend here as an athlete and as a person, and at a time when VfB were facing great sporting challenges. His loss will be felt extremely deeply. He was meant to remain the heartbeat of our team beyond this season – that’s what we’ve been fighting for with his management team for weeks. The fact that we’re letting Wataru go now is not purely due to financial constraints. It concerns very fundamental questions about how we at VfB Stuttgart deal with such outstanding player personalities. Liverpool FC’s offer created a clearer picture, and Wataru then informed us of his desire to fulfil his lifelong ambition of playing in the Premier League. We wish Wataru and his family all the best and are grateful for his commitment to VfB. We’ll deal with the situation and look for solutions to soften the blow of losing a player who, in reality, is irreplaceable.”
VfB CEO Alexander Wehrle: “Three years in the Bundesliga and 99 games – that says a lot about Wataru Endo’s importance to VfB Stuttgart. As captain, he was our team’s leader on the pitch and played his way into the hearts of all VfB fans with his passion, important goals and reliable, likeable personality. He deserves the title of ‘Legendo’. When a player like that leaves VfB, it makes us very sad. At the same time, however, we have to acknowledge that an offer from Liverpool is a unique opportunity for Wataru. That’s why we can’t stand in the way of our captain’s lifelong dream in the final year of his contract. A prerequisite for the transfer agreement, however, was that we receive a fee that reflects Endo’s importance to VfB. We managed to achieve that in our negotiations. Everyone at VfB wishes Wataru and his family all the best for his move to England – our doors will always be open to him in the future.”
Wataru Endo: “It was a tough decision to leave VfB just before the start of the season. I wouldn’t have left for just any club, but I hope VfB fans understand that I want to grasp this unique opportunity to play for Liverpool in the Premier League. The fact that VfB have given their blessing is something I don’t take for granted and I’m grateful for it. I’d like to thank my team-mates, staff, coaches and of course the fantastic fans for an unforgettable time at VfB. It was always an honour to lead VfB onto the pitch as captain and I’ll always carry Stuttgart in my heart.”
Endo joined VfB Stuttgart four years ago and made 133 competitive appearances for the club, including 99 in the Bundesliga. The 30-year-old is also the current captain of the Japanese national team and has won 50 caps for his country to date.
Thanks for everything, Wataru!