Soccer-Japan midfielder Kawabe joins Wolves from Grasshoppers

LONDON (Reuters) - Japanese international midfielder Hayao Kawabe has joined Wolverhampton Wanderers from Grasshoppers Zurich on a three-and-a-half-year deal, the Premier League club said on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old will spend January in England but is expected to return to Switzerland for the rest of the season, Wolves added in a statement without giving any financial details.

Kawabe, the first Japanese to sign for Wolves, joined Grasshopper from Sanfrecce Hiroshima last year and has scored four goals in 18 appearances.

"Hayao is a player we’ve watched a lot and he’s done really well this season," said Wolves' technical director Scott Sellars.

"He’s an attacking midfield player, very energetic, very busy, and has good quality. He’s really shone at Grasshoppers this year, and he’s one of the main reasons they’re doing so well.

"Hayao will spend January with Bruno (Lage)’s group while the Swiss Super League is on a winter break, then he’ll likely return to Grasshoppers to finish the season there, as he has been an important player for them so far this season."

Wolves are eighth in the Premier League after beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford last Monday.

The Premier League club are owned by China's Fosun International, co-founded by billionaire Guo Guangchang. Grasshoppers are 90% owned by a company run by Guo's wife.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)

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