Kawasaki Frontale winger Kaoru Mitoma will make a permanent move to English Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion, both clubs said Tuesday.
A product of Kawasaki’s youth setup, the 24-year-old opted to attend Tsukuba University before making his stellar J-League first-division debut last season.
He topped the voting for the J-League’s Best 11 in 2020, bagging 13 goals in 30 appearances as he helped Kawasaki claim their third title in four seasons.
“Most of the things I’ve learned about the game came at Frontale,” Mitoma said in a statement from the club, which he first joined as an under-10 player.
“I believe by following in the footsteps of my predecessors and producing results on the world stage, I can help the world become aware of this club, Kawasaki Frontale, and aid its future development.”
The fleet-footed winger scored eight goals in 20 league appearances this term. He also played for Japan at the Tokyo Olympics, scoring in a 3-1 defeat to Mexico in the bronze medal match.
Mitoma is initially expected to be loaned out to Belgian top-flight club Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, who were bought last year by Brighton owner Tony Bloom.
“I always have the aspiration and will to do my utmost as a professional footballer and that’s why I’ve made this decision,” Mitoma said in the statement.
Mitoma is the latest in a succession of Kawasaki players to head to Europe. Ko Itakura transferred to Manchester City in January 2019, Hidemasa Morita left for Portuguese club Santa Clara in January this year, while Ao Tanaka joined German second-tier side Dusseldorf this summer on loan.
The club was also home to current Real Madrid player Takefusa Kubo before he joined Barcelona’s youth academy.
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