Barcelona signs Hiroki Abe from Kashima Antlers

Hiroki Abe is to join Barcelona from Kashima Antlers and is expected to spend next season with the B team in Catalonia.

Hiroki Abe won the AFC Champions League last year and has appeared in all three of Japan's group games at the Copa America.   -  Getty Images

Rising Japan star Hiroki Abe has agreed to join Barcelona, J1 League side Kashima Antlers has confirmed.

The 20-year-old is due to undergo a medical and sign a contract after the two clubs reached an agreement over a transfer. The deal will reportedly cost Barca a fee in the region of €2 million.

"It was a difficult decision to leave the team this season," Abe, who was named Rookie of the Year in Japan's top flight in 2018, told Kashima's website.

"I felt strongly that I wanted to try new challenges at Barcelona, and I decided to move. I believe the various difficulties and obstacles I will face from now on are essential for my growth."

Abe is expected to link up with Barca B but reports in Spain suggest he could join Ernesto Valverde's first-team squad for its pre-season tour of Japan.

A winner of the AFC Champions League last year, Abe appeared in all three of Japan's group games at the Copa America, where it drew with Uruguay and Ecuador after losing 4-0 to Chile.