Arsenal target Mana Iwabuchi departs Aston Villa

Aston Villa's Mana Iwabuchi (left) and Chelsea's Melanie Leupolz in action during the FA Women's Sup

Aston Villa's Mana Iwabuchi (left) and Chelsea's Melanie Leupolz in action during the FA Women's Super League match at Kingsmeadow, London. Picture date: Sunday March 28, 2021. - Credit: PA

Aston Villa have confirmed that Arsenal target Mana Iwabuchi has left the club following the expiration of her contract. 

An Aston Villa statement read on Tuesday afternoon: "Aston Villa Women can confirm that seven players will leave the Club when their contracts expire at the end of June.

"Ella Franklin-Fraiture, Emma Follis, Amy West, Caroline Siems, Diana Silva, Mana Iwabuchi and Nadine Hanssen will be departing."

Iwabuchi who came to the Women's Super League in January to play for Aston Villa and helped them keep their WSL status surviving a 0-0 draw with the Gunners on the final day. 

Iwabuchi played 13 games for Villa scoring two goals including a thumping effort against Tottenham Hotspur. 

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The Japanese World Cup winner is also friends with Gunners duo Vivianne Miedema and Lisa Evans as they played with each other at Bayern Munich. 

Outgoing Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro confirmed on Friday the club were in negotiations for her as he said: "She is a player we have been after for a couple of years and the negotiations are close and I hope that the club will get it over the line." 

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Iwabuchi has been a long term target for the Gunners with Montemurro saying back in February: "Mana was a player of interest to me for around 18 months or so.

"Firstly we had a few challenges with her national team who wanted their players in and around Japan for the World Cup and then the Olympics.

"Initially we had planned around that but then the Olympic games were cancelled.

"We had to look at other alternatives but Mana is a player I have always admired and feel that she suits our style.”

Iwabuchi is lined up to replace Jill Roord who was confirmed as a Wolfsburg player last week ahead of the 2021-22 season. 

Iwabuchi has also played for Nippon TV Beleza, Hoffenheim, Bayern Munich and INAC Kobe Leonessa. 

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