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Yosuke Ideguchi may well be the future of the Leeds United midfield, but it will be some time before we know that for certain. The reason being that the 21-year-old Japanese international may have recently signed for the club, but it will be next season before he will be seen to line up at Elland Road. The remainder of this season will be played in Spain’s Segunda División.
Having reached the playoffs at the end of the 2016/17 season, Cultural Leonesa beat Barcelona B to gain promotion to the second tier of Spanish football. In the summer months that followed, it was announced that Championship side Leeds were to form a partnership with the side from the Castile and León region of north-west Spain.
It is at the Estadio Reino de León that Ideguchi will ply his trade following his move from the J1 League which finished in December. Having signed for a fee believed to be in the region of £500,000 including add-ons, Ideguchi flew out to Spain in January. He has impressed in what is essentially La Liga 2. A second-half substitute in the recent game against Sevilla B, he came on with the side 1-0 down. He was impressive in aiding his side to a 2-1 victory that lifted them out of the relegation zone.
The defensive midfielder from Fukuoka on the Northern shore of Japan’s Kyushu Island, Ideguchi, made the 700 kilometre trip to the city of Suita in the Osaka region as a teenager. Joining the youth set-up at Gamba Osaka’s youth team, Ideguchi had caught the attention of scouts from a young age playing in his home city with FC Chuoku Fukuoka, Street SC Fukuoka and Camellia FC Fukuoka.
Having impressed quickly at Gamba at underage level, his promotion to the senior side was rapid and by March 2014 he was a member of the senior squad. Under the guidance of former Japanese international striker Kenta Hasegawa, Ideguchi’s disciplined, defensive performances in the fulcrum of the midfield began to garner attention.
Talk of a possible move abroad gathered traction late last year, and it was reported in December that the Leeds move would happen but that a work permit issue would mean a loan move to Europe. Whether that is the sole reason is unclear, but either way, his form for club and country indicates he will be capable of performing for Leeds come next season - whether that is in the Championship or the Premier League.
The Championship is looking the more likely of the two options. In terms of betting, there is a consistency to the odds levelled at Leeds gaining promotion. Sitting in tenth place, Leeds may be only four points off a promotion play-off spot, but with Wolves odds-on to secure the title, it is a tight race between Derby, Aston Villa, Cardiff and Bristol City for second place.
Even with that, there are plenty of teams in with a shout of a play-off place. Leeds at 14/1 with 888sport, William Hill and Ladbrokes to gain promotion seems about right. Betfair offers the longer odds of 18/1 reflective of the fact that Leeds lost three times and drew twice in the Championship in January. Ideguchi's ability to fill gaps effectively in midfield would have been a welcome facet.
Japan a World Cup Long-Shot
Since his debut for Japan in 2016, Ideguchi has been instrumental in his country’s fortunes. No less so when he scored the second goal in the 2-0 win over Australia that sealed Japan’s place in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. If you were to go to the likes of Freebets.com to get the latest sports betting offers, it would be pretty clear that Japan are rank outsiders for an unlikely tournament victory.
In group H with Japan, Senegal and Poland however, it won’t be an easy path to the knock-out stages. Coral are one of the bookmakers from whom Freebets.com are offering a free £20 World Cup bet. A return on Japan qualifying for the last 16 may be good value. After all, few fancied them against Australia.
Betbright offer a £100 Free World Cup bet. £100 on Japan winning the tournament at 200/1 would be a long shot. But Colombia at 33/1 or even England at 16/1 could be a solid investment. Like most outlets, Betbright have Germany as the outright favourites at 9/2.
Regardless, Ideguchi will be a central part of Japanese manager Vahid Halilhodžić’s plans. And at Elland Road next season, there is every chance he will be at the centre of proceedings there too.