There’s no question Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal would really appreciate some incisiveness at the top of his side at the moment.
Despite the laboured win over Premier League strugglers Swansea, a series of impotent performances has seen discontent on the terraces and in the corridors of power at Old Trafford build up over the last few weeks, particularly with Jose Mourinho, and now Pep Guardiola, potentially waiting in the wings.
Investment is clearly going to be needed if United are to prove they are deserving of a place at English football’s top table, having grown too lethargic and predictable under Van Gaal’s tenure.
To see United linked with attacking reinforcements should come as no surprise, with Mainz’s Japan-international Yoshinori Muto being the latest to be linked with a move to Old Trafford.
The forward, who is reportedly admired by United’s former manager Sir Alex Ferguson, has enjoyed a very fine start to life in Europe, notching seven goals in 17 appearances.
Who is he?
The 23-year old began his senior career in 2013 under FC Tokyo boss Ranko Popovic, but arguably enjoyed his breakthrough season during under the stewardship of Massimo Ficcadenti the following year.
The young striker bagged 13 goals in 33 appearances during his first full debut season, earning him a place in the J League’s Team of the Year, raising plenty of eyebrows.
Another 10 goals in 17 appearances during the first half of the year saw him catch the eye of suitors across Europe, with Chelsea even reportedly preparing a £4 million deal.
But those advances were turned down, with Muto even stating: “The Premier League is a great league, but I’m not ready to play for Chelsea yet. I don’t want to hurry myself and want to develop steadily. The German first division is one of the best leagues in the world. I can face remarkable players from across the globe and it will help me develop.”
Reading between the lines, it’s not difficult to see the Premier League is indeed an ambition of his, but there remains a genuine and admirable determination to hone his skills first.
Is he ready for United?
When fellow countryman Shinji Kagawa arrived at Old Trafford, he had a similarly strong reputation, mainly due to a sparkling spell at Borussia Dortmund where he became a firm favourite with the fans.
But while we saw glimpses of his talents, there’s a feeling that Kagawa never quite fulfilled his potential in England.
Muto may well be weary of his Kagawa’s experience, which if nothing else show the rigours of the Premier League can prove too much for even the most promising foreign import.
Nevertheless, the forward’s impressive performances this season, many of which have come in the lone striker role, have shown a very different player to Old Trafford’s last Japanese import.
Muto’s dribbling, movement and combination play is only ever outdone by his ability to be in the right place at the right time, always looking to use the channels and play on the shoulder of the last defender – qualities that many United fans have been craving for a long time.
With Van Gaal’s tenure coming under increasing scrutiny, he may well fancy a gamble, although Muto’s refreshing attitude in not rushing things means his head may well be harder to turn.
Written by Tom Coleman
Follow Tom on Twitter @tomEcoleman
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