For a long time now Arsenal fans have been pleading with manager Arsene Wenger to buy a forward. Finally their calls have been answered, but it’s not exactly the high-profile name they’d been hoping for.
Takuma Asano is unlikely to be the Gunners’ only attacking transfer this summer and will probably be loaned out for his first year. He’s been described by the Wenger as “a talented young striker and very much one for the future,” so what can we expect from the 21 year old? Here are some things you should know about the former Sanfrecce Hiroshima man.
He comes from a huge family Born in Mie Prefecture in 1994, Asano is one of seven children. He got into football because his brothers regularly played and his talent was obvious during his younger days. After finishing top scorer at Yokkaichi Chuo Kogyo High School he was snapped up by Sanfrecce Hiroshima at the age of 18.
He’s a winner Since Asano signed for Sanfrecce in 2013 the club has won two titles and three Japanese Super Cups. Admittedly he didn’t have much of an impact during the first of those two championship successes, playing in just one game. Last season, though, his career really started to take off with nine league goals in 34 matches. He was named the J-League’s Rookie of the Year in 2015.
He’s a super sub Thirty-two of those 34 appearances last season came from the bench. A terrific impact sub, he has come on to score some crucial goals for his side, most notably in last year’s playoff victory over Gamba Osaka. With twelve minutes to go the youngster headed home to give Hiroshima a dramatic 4-3 win on aggregate as they clinched their third title in four years.
He has also scored vital goals for his country In the final of the 2015 AFC U23 Championships Korea led Japan by two goals to nil, then on the hour mark Asano was brought on to change things. He duly obliged, scoring just seven minutes later and then after Shinya Yajima equalized, the Sanfrecce frontman calmly slotted home the winner with less than ten minutes to go. Last month Asano was named in the Japan squad for the Rio Olympics.
He is still raw Asano has made five appearances for the full national side, scoring his maiden goal in the recent 7-2 drubbing of Bulgaria in the Kirin Cup. He was then given his first start for the final against Bosnia, but fluffed his lines when presented with a good opportunity – much to the frustration of coach, Vahid Halilhodzic. “I think Asano could have scored that chance easily, but he chose to look for the pass,” he said. “He’s still only 21 but he had other chances too. Perhaps it’s just a lack of experience, although in the Bulgaria game that wasn’t the case.”
He’s nicknamed the Jaguar Takuma is a lightning quick center-forward who is more effective from the bench because his pace can stretch tiring defenses. He can allegedly do the 50 meters in 5.9 seconds. A while ago journalist Kazuya Nakano said that “if (former teammate) Naoki Ishihara is known as The Puma, then we should call Asano The Jaguar.” The nickname has stuck ever since and now Asano poses like a jaguar when he scores.
He is not an alternative to Jamie Vardy The transfer of Asano has not exactly been well received by Arsenal fans. The Gunners have long been linked with big names like Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain. They also recently made a bid for Jamie Vardy, yet end up with a Japanese striker nobody has heard of. The fact that Man Utd have just brought in Zlatan Ibrahimovic has simply added to the supporters’ frustrations. Arsenal, though, are still in the market for a proven forward and the signing of Asano – who is expected to be initially sent out on loan – won’t change that.