• Kyodo


The Kashima Antlers have agreed to transfer attacker Hiroki Abe to Barcelona, the J. League team announced Friday.

The 20-year-old, who made his senior Japan debut at the recent Copa America, will join the Spanish powerhouse pending a medical.

A skillful dribbler with strong attacking instincts, Abe has primarily played for Kashima as a left midfielder, but can also play on the right or as a secondary striker.

The Tokyo native joined Kashima out of high school in 2017 and was named the J. League’s best young player the following year.

In a statement isssued by the Antlers, Abe said he looked forward to the challenge of joining 26-time Spanish champion Barcelona.

“It was a difficult decision to leave (Kashima) mid-season, but I chose to make the move because I absolutely want to take on this new challenge at Barcelona,” Abe said.

“The various challenges and hurdles I will face from now are crucial for my growth.”

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