Barcelona set to sign Japanese prospect Abe

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Kashima Antlers have agreed a deal to sell forward Hiroki Abe to Barcelona, the Japanese club have announced.

The deal, reported to be worth around €2 million, is subject to the 20-year-old, who made his international debut for Japan in the Copa America last month, agreeing personal terms and passing a medical in Spain.

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“We are pleased to announce that the basic agreement between the clubs has been reached regarding Hiroki Abe’s move to FC Barcelona,” Kashima, eight-time Japanese champions, said on their website. “After the medical check is complete, the contract will be concluded.”

It has been reported in Japan that the contract will last for three years with the possibility of a two-year extension. Abe, a versatile attacker who can play on the left, right or in a central role behind the main striker, is expected to start his European career in Barcelona’s ‘B’ team.

Abe, who played against Real Madrid in the 2018 Club World Cup, thanked the club which he helped to win the 2018 AFC Champions League title.

“Since graduating from high school, I spent two-and-a-half years at Kashima Antlers and was able to grow both as a person and a professional footballer,” Abe said. “It is a difficult decision to leave the team but I have decided to make the move to FC Barcelona, as I believe the various challenges I will now face are absolutely necessary for my development.”

Abe could make a swift return to Japan as part of Barcelona’s two-game summer tour.

It has been a busy transfer window for Japanese talent heading to Europe. Abe’s move to Barcelona comes almost a month after the Catalan side missed out on Japanese teen Takefusa Kubo.

The former Barca youth player was snapped up by Real Madrid upon reaching his 18th birthday.

Earlier in July, Japan international winger Shoya Nakajima joined FC Porto on a five-year deal.

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