Hiroki Abe was the J-League's best young player last season Photo: AFP/File

Japan midfielder Abe to move to Barcelona

By Kamarul Akhr

Japanese attacking midfielder Hiroki Abe said Friday he was moving to Barcelona, becoming the second Japanese player in a month to join one of La Liga's big two clubs.

J.League outfit Kashima Antlers, where 20-year-old Abe was spending his third season as a professional, confirmed the move.

Abe is expected to play for Barcelona's B team to start with, Japanese broadcaster NHK said.

The news came as Barcelona prepare to tour Japan later this month for friendly matches, including one against Premier League side Chelsea.

"I felt strongly that I wanted a new challenge at FC Barcelona, although the decision was difficult to make because it required me to leave the team (Antlers) during this ongoing season," Abe said in a statement.

Abe, voted the J-League's Best Young Player last season, was called into Japan's national team for the first time in June for the Copa America where he played in two games, including one as a second-half substitute.

Abe will complete the move after a medical check in Spain, Antlers added.

Abe's transfer comes after Japanese teenage sensation Takefusa Kubo, dubbed the "Japanese Messi", joined Real Madrid last month.

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

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A promotional money grab by Barca.Ain't no way Abe'll even sniff the bench.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Abe is expected to play for Barcelona's B team to start with, Japanese broadcaster NHK said.

'To start with'!?

Attacking midfielder? He'll be 'competing' against dembele, coutinho, rakitic, messi, griezmann, suarez, malcom, rafinha and a couple of others (possibly neymar) for a starting/bench spot.

Imo should have joined a much smaller club, got a few games under his belt & learn/adapt to euro football. Talented 20yo need game time (at the highest level) to progress.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Whatever shirt sales Abe generates won't compare to Madrid B's Kubo, the great hope of Japanese fans. And to think Barca had Kubo but were forced to release him because of their illegal transfers of young players.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bad career move for both players.

As I’ve said before, Barca & Real don’t buy young players with potential, they buy established world class players.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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