By Richard Parks
A Leeds United talent spotter 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 Japanese forward Yuta Toyokawa 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.
The 23-year-old, 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
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 moved to Elland Road from Japanese second division side Fagiano Okayama.
But 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 is 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
The contradiction of the account delivered by the Belgian top-flight side came after Leeds failed to release a statement to confirm the signing of Toyokawa.
Football Insider verdict:
How to explain a Belgian top-flight club announcing a transfer that was privately – if not, yet, publicly – denied by an English Championship club an hour or two later? The double deal was something of a head scratcher in any case, given that there had been zero media speculation about the possibility of it happening, and no official announcement from Leeds. Yet talent-spotter Fijitsu’s attendance at the Eupen match, and his subsequent praise for Toyokawa on Twitter, suggests at the very least that United have a strong interest in signing the striker, even if they have not yet officially done so.
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.