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Barcelona agree deal to sign Japanese starlet Hiroki Abe from Kashima Antlers

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Kashima Antlers forward Hiroki Abe is on the verge of a move to Barcelona after the two clubs agreed a deal in principle for the 20-year-old.

The Japan international, who played an integral role in the Antlers’ AFC Champions League-winning campaign last season, will become a Barca player once he has successfully completed a medical at Camp Nou and agreed personal terms.

The Tokyo-born star was handed the J League Rookie of the Year award last season, and won his first international cap as recently as last month, coming on as a substitute in Japan’s clash with Chile at the Copa America.

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La Liga champions Barcelona are expected to draft Abe into their reserve set-up once he has arrived in Catalunya, but a fast-track to the first team over the coming months has not been ruled out.

The former Setouchi High School youth player, who has also played at Under-19 and Under-20 level for his country, says the decision to leave Japan has not been taken lightly.

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