• Kyodo

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Up-and-coming midfielder Ritsu Doan had the 2018 Russia World Cup on his mind as he left for Europe on Wednesday to join Dutch first-division side FC Groningen on loan from Gamba Osaka.

“I want to go to Russia. I am going to make a killer effort (in the Netherlands),” the 19-year-old Doan told reporters before departing from Kansai airport.

“I want to score goals and deliver convincing numbers. I want do better than the (other) Japanese players there,” he said, referring to the likes of Yuki Kobayashi, who plays for Heerenveen.

Doan will undergo a medical check before joining the Eredivisie team for a loan spell that runs from July 1 through June 2018.

A product of Gamba’s youth system, Doan helped Japan win the Under-19 Asian championship title for the first time last year and was named the tournament’s best player.

He also played at the recent Under-20 World Cup in South Korea, catching the eye with three goals in the tournament, including a brace against Italy that sent Japan into the round of 16.

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