Wolves sign Hayao Kawabe

Wolves have signed Japanese international midfielder Hayao Kawabe from Swiss Super League side Grasshopper Club Zurich.

The 26-year-old will become Wolves’ first ever Japanese player and the move comes after an impressive first half season in European football with Grasshoppers, who he joined from Sanfrecce Hiroshima last summer.

In his 18 appearances in Switzerland, Kawabe has scored four and assisted three from an attacking midfield role and netted on his last outing for the club against FC Basel before Christmas.

Having made his senior Japan debut against South Korea in March 2021, Kawabe was handed three further caps last year and bagged his first international goal in a World Cup qualifying victory over Tajikistan in June.

Now, the midfielder heads to Molineux on a three-and-a-half-year deal, and is expected to return to Switzerland to on loan to complete the season with Grasshoppers after spending January in the Black Country.

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

“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.

“Due to the GBE criteria for signing international players, Hayao is a player who is eligible to sign for a British club this month, but may not be in the future, which is why we’ve moved now to confirm his signing.

“Hayao will spend January with Bruno’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.”