The transfer of Yosuke Ideguchi to Leeds United in January 2018 could perhaps go down as one of the strangest and ultimately most pointless transfers in the club’s history.
The Japanese international arrived at Elland Road with much optimism as a prospect for the future and was immediately loaned to Spanish side Cultural Leonesa for the remainder of the 2017-2018 season.
Despite making three appearances for United during the 2018-2019 pre-season campaign, Marcelo Bielsa admitted that it was hard to envisage Ideguchi being part of his plans, and that it would be “unfair” to ask him to stay at the club.
Ideguchi went on to join Bundesliga 2 side Greuther Furth and made seven appearances for the German club but missed a large chunk of the campaign due to a cruciate ligament injury.
Over the summer Ideguchi rejoined Gamba Osaka, the side United signed him from in January 2018, and has made nine league appearances for the club so far this season.
He played in all of Gamba Osaka’s Japanese League Cup campaign where they made the semi-final only to lose out to Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo.
His unfortunate injury last season has seen him miss out the more recent Japanese national side games, having not turned out for his national side since 30th May 2018.
Given his age (21) at the time of the transfer and already amassing a number of caps for Japan, some United fans may have been forgiven for feeling optimistic that the Ideguchi signing will have been a solid long-term acquisition.
In 2016 the midfielder won both the “New Hero” award and “Rookie of the Year” award at the J League’s 2016 awards ceremony.
It will be a cause of wonder to United fans to what impact Ideguchi would have had if given the chance at United, and what dynamic he could of bought to United’s promotion push last term.
Marcelo Bielsa has proved he can get the best out of players and has revitalised midfielders such as Kalvin Phillips, Mateusz Klich and Adam Forshaw during his time at Elland Road.
Ideguchi may certainly look at his time at Leeds United as frustrating, failing to make any progress with the club and potentially stalling the development of himself.
Leeds fans may occasionally wonder what could have been if they ever see his name crop up but quite honestly he is a player that most of the Whites’ faithful will have probably forgotten about.
The United faithful tend to have Marcelo Bielsa’s back in most decisions and I can’t envisage too many supporters questioning the Argentine’s decision in this case.
Ideguchi could one day feature as an answer in a United pub-quiz, e.g. “Which international signed for United during the January 2018 transfer window but failed to make a single appearance?” but other than that, it is unlikely the Japanese international will live long in the fans’ memories.
Now back at his previous club and his home country, Ideguchi will be hoping to stay fit and force his way back into the Japanese national side.