Leeds United are lining up a January deal for Japan international midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi, the YEP understands.
The Elland Road club have begun negotiations to bring the 21-year-old to the Championship and aim to finalise an agreement ahead of the winter window.
Leeds’ sporting director Victor Orta spoke last week about United being “close to signing a big surprise from Asia” after expending their scouting network into the Far East.
Toshiya Fujita, a former Japan international, was named as the club’s head of recruitment for the Asian market in July and club owner Andrea Radrizzani spent time in Japan at the very end of the summer transfer window.
Ideguchi, who was capped at Under-19 and Under-23 level by Japan, played and scored in a 2-0 victory over Australia during a World Cup qualifier in Saitama on August 31. He secured his first call-up to Japan’s senior squad earlier this year.
The youngster currently plays for J-League side Gamba Osaka, where he earned his first professional contract in 2014. He was named as the J-League’s young player of the year last season after Osaka finished sixth in the table.
Leeds would be required to secure a work permit for Ideguchi, who currently falls short of the Football Association’s points-based criteria for non-EU footballers, but the club are hopeful of finding a way to secure the transfer.
Ideguchi has already made 20 appearances in this year’s J-League campaign, scoring three goals. The Japansese term is scheduled to end on December 2, a month before FIFA’s winter transfer window opens.
Orta hinted at the arrival a week ago, saying: ““We are watching players around the world. We have eight countries as priorities but we have a special group of scouts that watch the leagues a little bit lower - the Swedish leagues and we are close to signing a big surprise for Asia.
“We are watching a lot of players in the secondary leagues because you can bring in good talent from them.”