By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Ito pens new deal with Stuttgart

Effectively putting all outgoing transfer rumors to bed, VfB Stuttgart announced that Japanese defender Hiroki Ito signed a contract extension on Wednesday afternoon. 
VfB Stuttgart's new star starting left-back has extended his working papers in Swabia through the end of 2026/27 campaign. The Japanese defender had been the subject of outgoing transfer rumors, most notably an attempt by former VfB sporting director Sven Mislintat to poach him for his new Ajax side. The VfB front office were able to hold firm against such offers and reward the 24-year-old with what's sure to be a hefty pay increase.

"Hiroki Ito credibly embodies our claim to develop the team in terms of quality," Stuttgart sporting director Fabian Wohlgemuth explained in a statement released on the club's website, "He is an intelligent, technically and athletically strong player and is one of the best in his position in the league. Hiroki has made an extraordinary development under the VfB aegis over the past few years and is now one of the supporting pillars in our sporting concept."

"I am very happy about the contract extension," Ito himself added, I feel very comfortable in Stuttgart, am very happy about my development. When I came from the second Japanese league in 2021, I wouldn't have believed that I would make so many appearances and make the jump to the national team a year later."

Starting at left-back agains VfL Bochum on Sunday, Ito had one of the strongest debuts of any player at the position in the German top flight. The now 10-times-capped international notched an assist on Stuttgart's opening goal in the 5-0 rout. He also amassed 90 touches, racked up an 89-percent passing rate, and won all of his ground duels.

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