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It’s been four years since the famous football club set foot on Japanese soil, and soccer manga creator Yoichi Takahashi commemorated their visit with a special piece of artwork.

Soccer is the most popular sport in the world. In fact, its popularity is quickly rising in Japan, where in past generations it played (at best) second fiddle to baseball. However, with the success of the women’s national team, Nadesico Japan, and the strength of the men’s national team, Samurai Blue, the sport is rivaling baseball as a national pastime.

One only needs to look at manga to get another look at how popular soccer is in Japan. One of Shonen Jump’s most popular titles is the soccer-focused sports manga Captain Tsubasa. Written and drawn by Yoichi Takahashi, the story follows soccer player Tsubasa Oozora.

To celebrate FC Barcelona’s return to Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup, Takahashi, who has long been a supporter of the widely popular football club, drew some of its star players in his instantly recognizable style. The illustration was presented to the team at their official reception held in Tokyo and premium Barça fans can download a copy of the drawing through the FC Barcelona website.

Takahashi included five Barcelona players in his drawing: Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, Andrés Iniesta, Lionel Messi, Luis Alberto Suárez and Gerard Piqué.

Fans of FC Barcelona in Japan like Takahashi must be incredibly happy with its FIFA Club World Cup win, but also disappointed with the team having left the country. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take another four years for the team to make a return to Japan.

Source: Qoly
Top image: Twitter/@FCBarcelona