Abe moves to Barcelona
Ibaraki: Kashima Antlers confirmed on Fridat that Hiroki Abe is transferring to Spanish champions FC Barcelona.
The 20-year-old forward, who has been with the reigning Asian champions since 2017, will make his first move to the European continent and will be hoping to feature in the La Liga and UEFA Champions League.
Abe has shown tremendous talent for both club and the Japanese national team. Last year, he played a crucial role in assisting Kashima to their first AFC Champions League title, while also impressing domestically in the J1 League to be named the Rookie of the Year.
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Abe first donned the Samurai Blue jersey for the U-19 squad in 2017, before going on to compete in the AFC U-19 Championship Finals the following year, where Japan finished as semi-finalists.
His progress impressed head coach Hajime Moriyasu, who included him in the Japanese senior team for their recent Copa America campaign in Brazil.
"I spent a few months in high school and two and a half years at Kashima Antlers, and I was able to grow as a professional player," Abe said.
"To the staff, teammates and supporters, it was my pride and fortune to fight for victory with all the Antlers family.
"It was a difficult decision to leave the team this season, I felt strongly that I wanted to try new challenges in Barcelona, and I decided to move, and I believe that the various difficulties I will face from now on are absolutely necessary for my growth."
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