By Harry Sykes
Leeds United are preparing to trigger the £700,000 release clause of Japan midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi, according to a report.
Japanese outlet Sports Nippon claim Leeds are in hot pursuit of the creative midfielder, 21.
It is said that Ideguchi is “highly likely” to move to the Championship high flyers in the January transfer window.
The deal is complicated by the fact that Ideguchi does not automatically qualify for a British work permit as he has only made four appearances for the Japan national team to date.
It emerged earlier on Monday that the Gamba Osaka player is the “big surprise from Asia” that director of football Victor Orta was referring to in a Facebook Q&A with supporters last week.
this was the ‘big surprise from Asia’ that Victor Orta was talking about last week.
— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) September 11, 2017
Ideguchi plays in central midfield and has made a big impression for Gamba Osaka since graduating from their youth ranks.
He was named the J. League Young Player of the Year last season and made waves in Asia during the recent international break by scoring a sensational winner in Japan’s World Cup qualifier against Australia.
In 21 league appearances for Japanese top-tier club Gamba Osaka in 2017, he has scored three goals and supplied six assists.
Leeds recruitment chief Orta revealed last Monday night that fans can expect a new player to imminently arrive.
United have already signed 16 new players during a dizzying overhaul of the playing squad this summer, including headline arrivals Samuel Saiz, Pierre-Michael Lasogga, Ezgjan Alioski and Vurnon Anita.
Football Insider verdict:
Any Leeds fan who will have watched the video clip of Ideguchi’s sensational goal for Japan in their World Cup qualifier win against Australia 12 days ago will be excited about the potential of a rising star of Asian football. A central midfielder who creates and scores goals, Ideguchi clearly has pedigree and a fee of £700,000 is an absolute bargain for an ambitious Championship club. However, it is a deal that should be approached with a degree of trepidation. Japanese players have a mixed record in English football. For every Shinji Okazaki, there is a Shinji Kagawa, who was regarded as a massive coup when signed by Manchester United but could barely get out of first gear.
In other Leeds United transfer news, a top-flight striker with an excellent goals record has revealed he wants to permanently move to Elland Road next year.