• Kyodo

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Australia under-23 captain Thomas Deng has agreed to join the Urawa Reds ahead of the upcoming J. League season, the club announced Tuesday.

In a statement on the club website, the two-time Asian champion said it had acquired the 22-year-old defender on a full transfer from Australian side Melbourne Victory.

The move comes just days after Deng led Australia to qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics via a third-place finish at the AFC U-23 Championship in Thailand.

In a video message posted on the Reds’ Twitter account, Deng, who made his full Socceroos debut in October 2018, said he looked forward to playing for the club.

“I’m very excited to join the team. It’s been a quick process but I’m here and I can’t wait to commence training, to meet all the players and all the staff,” said the 182-cm center back, who counts Keisuke Honda among his former Victory teammates.

“I can’t wait to play in front of the best fans in the league and I’m happy to join the best team in Japan.”

The Reds are aiming to rebound following a disappointing 2019 season in which they finished 14th in J1. The squad reached the final of the Asian Champions League before losing 3-0 on aggregate to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal.

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