Having had their overtures towards Jamie Vardy rebuffed, Arsenal’s storied striker search continues and reports from Japan suggest they’ve targeted a left-field alternative to rumour-mill darlings Alexandre Lacazette and Alvaro Morata.
The Gunners have made a formal offer for 21-year-old SanfrecceHiroshima hitman Takuma Asano, according to Japanese organ Sanyo News.
Twice a J1 League title winner already in his fledgling career and the competition’s reigning rookie of the year, Asano has already scored 20 goals in 75 games for Sanfrecce and once in four games for his full national team.
News of Arsenal’s interest in the youngster have been greeted, in some quarters, with predictably pointless misgivings about the club’s moderate past record when it comes to signing Asian talents.
For a start the Gunners’ three highest-profile signings from that part of the globe have precious little in common to suggest a collective failing.
Junichi Inamoto, returned early from a single-season loan spell in north London due to injury, represented his nation at the 2002 World Cup and went on to have productive spells with Fulham, Cardiff, West Brom, Galatasaray and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Ryo Miachi signed at the age of 19 before playing a senior game, while South Korean striker Park Chu-young arrived from Monaco, where he had bagged 26 times in 103 outings.
Asano, who recently came off the bench to score twice in Japan’s Under-23 Asian Cup final win over South Korea, arguably has most in common with Inamoto, having already got a significant amount of J League experience under his belt.
However, in terms of playing style, he more closely resembles the man who recently turned down Arsenal, Jamie Vardy.
Known, according to The Sun, as ‘The Jaguar’ in his native land as homage to his pace and agility, the young striker is particularly effective on the break, either when latching on to through balls or carrying the ball from his own half.
At 5’6” he’s unlikely to provide much of an aerial threat, but a particularly astute eye for a penalty area run off a short pass should ensure that he fits in at the Emirates if the move is made.