COMMENT By Richard Parks
One of the mysteries of a perplexing Leeds United January transfer window was their apparent signing of Japanese forward Yuta Toyokawa.
Belgian club KAS Eupen revealed on their official website on 5 January that they had signed Toyokawa on a loan deal from Leeds after he had seemingly moved to Elland Road from Japanese second division side Fagiano Okayama.
But the Championship giants’ spin machine soon went into overdrive and BBC Radio Leeds correspondent Adam Pope delivered an emphatic rebuttal of the Eupen statement on his official Twitter account hours later, explaining that his information from the United camp was that they have not secured a deal for the Japan Under-23 international.
Leeds United say they have not signed striker Yuta Toyokawa despite Eupen’s claim they are loaning him from #lufc
— Adam Pope (@APOPEY) January 5, 2018
With no subsequent confirmation or announcement from Leeds, that appeared to be that for the player’s association with one of England’s most historic clubs.
But the possibility of Toyokawa playing for United at some point in the future is firmly back on the agenda after one of the club’s senior talent spotters took to Twitter to rave about a striker who netted a remarkable 16-minute hat-trick for Belgian side KAS Eupen on Sunday.
Toshiya Fujitsu, Leeds’ head of football development for Asia, was in Belgium to watch the 23-year-old save Eupen from relegation on the final day of the regular league campaign with a stunning cameo in his side’s 4-0 win over Royal Excel Mouscron.
Toyokawa, who joined the club on loan in January, scored in the 73rd, 80th and 89th minutes after coming on as a substitute 12 minutes into the second half.
It drew praise from Fijitsu, who was blown away by the impact of the front man, who also provided an assist for the fourth goal scored by his side.
He posted on Twitter: “Tokoyawa great success. Coincidentally excited to see his hat-trick at the stadium. A Japanese player who gave a wonderful present to support was proudest. Congratulations Toyokawa!”
KAS Eupen !
— 藤田 俊哉 (@toshiyafujita28) March 11, 2018
Fijitsu’s attendance at the Eupen match, and his subsequent social media verdict, suggests at the very least that United have a strong interest in signing the striker, even if they have not yet officially done so.
He also fits the mould of the type of player they might want following a huge number of new cheap and youthful arrivals from across the globe since Andrea Radrizzani took over as owner last May.
In other Leeds United news, it can be revealed that the club have launched a bid to sign a Premier League centre-forward in the form of his life.