J-League challenge will prepare me for World Cup - Forlan

With throngs of supporters on hand to greet him at the airport and the stadium, the Uruguay forward promised to repay their hospitality for new club Cerezo Osaka this season
Diego Forlan believes Japan's J-League will serve as ideal preparation for the World Cup following his move to Cerezo Osaka.

The former Manchester United, Inter and Atletico Madrid forward signed a deal reportedly worth €4.2 million (£3.45m) for the 2014 season after spending the previous campaign with Internacional.

Addressing reporters in exemplary Japanese, Forlan expressed his delight at the chance to ply his trade in another new continent and insists his chances of securing a World Cup spot with Uruguay will not be damaged by the move.

"I want to thank the J-League and the Japanese government for the chance to play here," the 34-year-old told a packed press room at Osaka's Nagai Stadium. "I've been to Japan three times and received tremendous hospitality.

"This is a strong league and I think it will be a good place for me to prepare for the World Cup.

"The staff at [Cerezo] are very passionate. They've got a great environment here and I think it will be a good fit for me.

"Cerezo have a lot of great players, but more importantly their youth system has sent several players to Europe so I have a very good impression of them.

"Italy, England, and Spain's leagues are a step above the rest because they have the finances to do so. But I don't see a huge difference between countries like Japan, Brazil, and Mexico in terms of their leagues' playing level."

Forlan’s competitive debut for Cerezo could come as early as February 25 at Pohang Steelers in the first match of their AFC Champions League campaign.

They will host defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima on March 1 in the opening round of the J-League.