SAINTS have sealed the pre-contract signing of Japanese youth international forward Rento Takaoka.

The 17 year old will remain in Japan with his current side, Nissho Gakuen High School, until he turns 18 in March and officially joins the club.

On the signing, a Saints spokesperson said: "We look forward to welcoming Rento to the club when he officially joins in March 2025."

Takaoka has enjoyed a successful start to his career, scoring regularly for club and country, as he most recently impressed at the 2023 Under-17 World Cup.

The youngster scored four times in the group stages as Japan matched their second-best finish in the tournament by reaching the round of 16 in Indonesia.

He hit goals in crucial wins over Poland and Senegal, in addition to a consolation effort in the 3-1 defeat to Argentina.

Takaoka also helped Japan to win a record fourth AFC U-17 Championship in 2023, scoring in the quarter-final against Australia.

Takaoka will hope to follow in the footsteps of Maya Yoshida, Takumi Minamino and Tadanari Lee as Japanese players to play for Saints in the Premier League.