Japan's Hiroki Abe (left) and Ecuador's Arturo Mina vie for the ball during their Copa America football tournament group match at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on Jun 24, 2019. (AFP)

BARCELONA - AFP
Barcelona complete signing of rising Japan star Abe

Barcelona announced on Monday (Jul 15) they had completed the signing of young Japan winger Hiroki Abe from the Kashima Antlers of the J-League.

The Catalan club said they had paid €1.1 million (US$1.25 million) for the 20-year-old and assigned him to their reserve team, which plays in the third-tier Spanish Segunda B.

Barcelona said Abe had signed a four-year contract with a €40 million buyout clause which would rise to €100 million if he is promoted to the first team.

He "is considered to be Japanese football's big promise ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games," Barca said on their website.

Abe, who made his international debut in the Copa America last month, can play anywhere across the front line, but "has predominantly been used on the left flank," the Catalans said.

He was the J-League's young player of the year in 2018 and started both legs as Kashima won the Asian Champions League title in the same season. He made 79 appearances for the Antlers over the last three seasons scoring 10 times.

Barcelona matched Real Madrid who last month signed teenager Takefusa Kubo, nicknamed the 'Japanese Messi', from FC Tokyo.

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