Bayern Munich on Thursday announced the signing of Japanese centre-back Hiroki Ito from Stuttgart until 2028 after reportedly triggering his 30 million euro ($32 million) release clause.

Ito, 25, is a surprise signing for Bayern and their first major arrival of the transfer window. He signed with Stuttgart just two seasons ago from Japanese side Jubilo Iwata, after a year on loan in Germany, for less than one million euros.

"It's a great honour for me to be able to play for one of the biggest clubs in the world," Ito said in a prepared statement.

"I want to play my part in FC Bayern winning lots of trophies."

Normally deployed in central defence, the left-footed Ito can also play at left-back or in defensive midfield. 

Ito played 97 times in two seasons at Stuttgart, scoring twice. 

"Hiroki has everything that we want: he's a player who embraces challenges, overcomes them and continues to make his way," said Bayern sporting director Max Eberl.

"Hiroki is tall, aggressive, has a strong left foot, an excellent passing game and is versatile in defence because he can play on both the left side as well as centrally.

"He'll really strengthen us right away."

Ito was a key factor in Stuttgart's stunning turnaround last season, rising from relegation candidates to finish in the Champions League placings. 

Sebastian Hoeness' side finished second behind champions Bayer Leverkusen -- a spot above Bayern, who missed out on a trophy for the first time in 12 seasons.

Ito made his debut for Japan in 2022 and has since played 19 games, scoring one goal.