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With the Arsenal fan base crying out for Gonzalo Higuains and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyangs, Arsene Wenger has signed a relative nobody in Takuma Asano from J1 League side Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
Although the announcement has been received with mixed reactions, the manager has been quick to label him as “one for the future”.
Whilst his words clearly signifies he is not a part of his plans for the 2016/17 season, the J1 League striker could still proceed to achieve greatness with Arsenal.
Japanese scouts failed to recognize his talent early as he had been playing only for his high school team until he signed for Sanfrecce Hiroshima at 18 years of age in January 2013.
Since his debut for the current J1 League champions in 2013, he has proceeded to muster 83 competitive appearances, scoring 21 goals in the process.
His recent goalscoring has been decent, though, as he has averaged 0.35 goals per game as opposed to his measly 0.04 goals-per-game ratio before his breakthrough season in 2015.
Whilst the numbers are not mouth-watering, Manchester United’s £58 million signing Anthony Martial did not boast £58 million-worthy statistics before arriving at Old Trafford either.
He has, however, become one of the most influential players in the United dressing room now. Although expecting Asano to emulate Martial’s success would be ludicrous, such a scenario cannot be ruled out completely.
The Japanese striker made his international debut only last year; he could definitely proceed to fill the shoes of Keisuke Honda in the long term.
However, international success in Asia hardly translates to becoming a key figure at Arsenal; Arsenal bust and former South Korea skipper Park Chu-Young can testify.
At Arsenal, whilst it is a given he will not need to lock horns with Olivier Giroud for playing time, he will find himself in a squared circle with Donyell Malen, Stephy Mavididi, Yaya Sanogo, and Chuba Akpom for first-team opportunities.
The fact that only the latter two fall into his age category could act in his favour as neither has been as prolific as the next-in-line striker should be.
However, he will be gauged based on how well his loan spells pan out as he could end up being loaned back to J1 League in the event of not meeting the visa requirements.
Although not so dynamic as that of United’s or AC Milan’s, Arsenal boast a huge and loyal fanbase and helping them identify an Arsenal player as their own will certainly boost the Gunners’ popularity in the continent.
Wenger’s previous Japanese projects in Ryo Miyaichi and Junichi Inamato ended in vain.
The onus is now on Asano to buck the trend.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen
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