Barcelona have confirmed the capture of Japanese international Hiroki Abe, with the player joining on a permanent basis from Kashima Antlers.
It seems Barcelona are intent on not repeating the same mistake as they did in the case of Takefusa Kubo, with the La Liga champions confirming the arrival of their own Japanese star this transfer window. Hiroki Abe arrives from Japanese side Kashima Antlers after a promising start to his senior career in the J-League.
Abe joins Barcelona for a little over €1 million, with the Kashima Antlers star signing a four-year deal with the Spanish giants. A €40 million release clause has been inserted in Abe’s contract, with the player set to join the B squad for the upcoming season at the very least.
Interestingly, the release clause will rise to €100 million once Abe earns his senior debut for Barcelona.
Hiroki Abe, despite his age, has tasted success at a decent level, winning the AFC Champions League 2018 with Kashima Antlers while also being named J-League’s Young Player of the Year for the same season. Abe’s direct contribution may warrant improvement, but his versatility and potential’s upside eclipses the lack of direct contribution, which is something he can add to his game as he develops.
While Abe is predominantly a left winger, the 20-year-old can play all across the front three, which is something that will increase his chances of breaking into the first-team in case the key players are to be rested or are sidelined by injuries. The transfer represents a shift in policy from Barcelona in the current transfer window.
While the club are splashing the cash to bring in mega stars like Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie De Jong to improve the first-team setup, they have also invested in players with considerable potential, having signed Ludovit Reis from Groningen.
There are several key stars within the first-team that will need phasing out in the years to come. Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are on the list and the prospect of replacing each and every name on this list adequately is a daunting one.
But, Barcelona are moving in the right direction, adding potential first-team stars to their B squad along with academy stars like Riqui Puig, Oriol Busquets, Juan Miranda and more.
Perhaps, Hiroki Abe could be the first pure Asian superstar to represent Barcelona at the senior level, Paulinho Alcantara being the first but the star represented Spain and Catalonia as well along with Philipines.