There’s some striking transfer news from Genk! Jong Genk has strengthened itself with the addition of 17-year-old top Japanese talent Yumeki Yoshinaga. Yoshinaga joins from Kamimura Gakuen High School in his home country, with whom he has played for the U18s. In Limburg, the left back will join Jelle Coen's side, Jong Genk, from his 18th birthday in February.
One season after the departure of Japanese winger Junya Ito, KRC Genk has welcomed a new top talent from the land of the rising sun to its ranks. Jong Genk has a real winner with Yumeki Yoshinaga. With the Japanese U-17s he won the Asian Cup, where he played a crucial role in the tournament, providing three assists in five games. At this prestigious event he was also often used as a winger on both flanks: a clear sign of his versatility. The previous experience at Genk of Japanese players gave Yoshinaga's parents the final push to give the green light to make the switch to their side. For the newest Genkie, a boyhood dream is coming true.
Evidence at Jong Genk
“I am very honoured to start my professional football career at Genk. It is a club that is internationally known for training young talents. I believe that Genk is the ideal step for my career. My goal is to one day make the first team. That's why I want to prove myself at Jong Genk at the first instance. As a professional footballer, I want to give something back to those who have always supported me so far,” Yoshinaga said, sounding full of ambition.
KRC Genk has the habit of bringing players to the club at a young age to let them take the next step in their career in the Genk Talent Academy. Japanese players who go on to university can only make that transition from the age of 21. That was a sign for the Technical Coordinator at Jong Genk, Stijn Haeldermans to push hard to sign the young Japanese players, even before he would go to university in his home country.
Anticipating the future
“The left back is a difficult position internationally to fill with quality. We are already anticipating this with the arrival of Yumeki. He combines an enormous physical presence with great technical skill and an enormous desire to getforward. This means he fits in nicely with the list of fullbacks that are already playing at Genk today. In our attacking style of play, we expect our defenders in wide areas to help provide attacking play for our team. Initially, we will give Yumeki time to adjust to life and Genk and the level of professional football in Belgium in peace. From next season we see him as a pillar of Jong Genk and in the next phase he will then compete for a place in the first team," Stijn Haeldermans, Technical Coordinator at Jong Genk, said confidently.
The Japanese left back has also shown flashes of his class in his home country this season, with six assists in eleven games. It earned him interest from several highly regarded youth organizations in Europe and several Japanese first division teams, but ultimately his destination was Genk. The new Genkie has been offered a 4.5-year contract. Starting in February, when he turns 18, he will be an option for Jong Genk trainer Jelle Coens.