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Tokyo Verdy striker Takayuki Morimoto, who is set to join newly promoted Italian first-division club Catania on one-year loan, said Monday he hopes his skills developed at the J. League club will pay dividends in Italy.

“The Serie A is one of the most competitive leagues in the world. I have the impression that defense is very strong there,” the 18-year-old Morimoto said at a press conference, a day after the J. League second-division club announced a one-year loan deal with Catania.

Morimoto holds the record for being the youngest player to score in the J. League first division with the goal he struck for Verdy in May 2004, when he was just under 16. Verdy was relegated from the top flight after the 2005 season.

He was also a member of Japan’s Under-20 squad playing in the World Youth Championship last year. Catania has returned to the Italian League after a 23-year absence.

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