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 By John Duerden

Leeds United tracking Japan midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi - report

Japan qualified for their sixth straight World Cup following their 2-0 win over Australia.

Leeds United are on the trail of young Japanese international Yosuke Ideguchi, according to reports in Tokyo, with the Championship club ready to offer around £700,000 to trigger the midfielder's release clause.

Ideguchi hit the international headlines on Aug. 31 with a spectacular strike -- his first goal for his country -- to give Japan a 2-0 win over Australia in Saitama that sealed a place in the 2018 World Cup.

Sports Nippon reports that there is a high possibility of the deal going through for the 2016 J.League Rookie of the Year.

If so, the 21-year-old, who has been studying English, could make the move in the January transfer window.

Should the Gamba Osaka product fail to receive a work permit from the British government -- Ideguchi made his national team debut earlier this year and has not yet played enough games to meet the criteria -- then he could be loaned out to a club in another European league.

Yosuke Ideguchi of Japan scores v Australia 2017
Yosuke Ideguchi scored a spectacular, long-range goal for Japan vs. Australia on Aug. 31.

The news comes after Leeds, three-time English champions, appointed former Japan international Toshiya Fujita as Head of Football Development in Asia in August.

Just last week, the club's Director of Football, Victor Orta said on social media that Leeds were close to a surprise signing from Asia.

At present, Ideguchi is focusing on his club form, and securing a place in Japan's starting lineup for the 2018 World Cup.

"[In the Australia game] I was slow switching between defence and attack and that is something I need to fix," Ideguchi told domestic media after his performance against Australia.

"[Those qualities] are what the coach wants from me. They are my strengths and what I want to keep on showing," he said, adding that he believes his place in the squad for Russia is not yet guaranteed.

"At this moment in time... no way. But I just want to show quality, and keep improving in defence and attack."

Asian expert John Duerden is the author of Lions and Tigers: Story of Football in Singapore and Malaysia.Twitter: @JohnnyDuerden.



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