Leeds United transfer target signals intent to move away from Japan

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Leeds United target Yosuke Ideguchi has confirmed his intention to move away from Japan with the Elland Road club vying to sign him in the next transfer window.

The 21-year-old midfielder said it was his plan to “go abroad” and follow other leading Japanese players to Europe on the back of advanced transfer negotiations between Leeds and his current club Gamba Osaka.

United have approached Osaka over a January move and are optimistic of reaching a deal to bring Ideguchi to Leeds, despite the threat of work permit issues.

Ideguchi, a Japan international, does not meet the Football Association’s points-based criteria but Arsenal encountered a similar issue when they signed striker Takuma Asano from J-League club Sanfrecce Hiroshima a year ago.

READ MORE: Japan’s World Cup hero and rookie of the year - in-depth look at Leeds United target Yosuke Ideguchi
Asano was refused permission to play in the Premier League and departed on loan to German club Stuttgart last season. He has remained in the Bundesliga with Stuttgart this term.

Leeds, however, remain in negotiations for Ideguchi’s signature amid reports in Japan that his contract contains a £700,000 buy-out clause.

The midfielder told Japanese newspaper Sports Hochi: “The desire to go abroad has not changed. That goal is there because I am a football player.

“There are a lot of people playing for overseas team and the level is high. I also want to go to these places.”

Japan’s national squad is littered with Europe-based players, including Southampton’s Maya Yoshida and Leicester City’s Shinji Okazaki.

Ideguchi struck the second goal in a 2-0 win over Australia on August 31, a result which secured Japan qualification of the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

United owner Andrea Radrizzani was in Japan at the time of that game and discussions over Ideguchi have continued since the closure of the transfer window with a view to tying up a deal before January.