I’m not usually one to make bold predictions but, based on what I’ve seen of Takuma Asano in the Olympics, I’m sure he’ll be a bigger hit at Arsenal than his Japanese predecessors: Junichi Inamoto and Ryo Miyaichi.
What makes Asano stand out from the crowd is his physicality. For a Japanese player, he is quite muscular.
Aside from that, Asano has what Ryo had: pace and technique. I’d say Asano has more skill than Ryo in that he has an almost innate ability to know when to employ a particular technique to the best effect. This was shown by his deft touch into the Nigerian net in Japan’s opening game at the Olympics. It was an extravagantly-finished goal, but it was effective. You might say, dare I say it, there was a touch of Robert Pires about it.
In the game, it was difficult for Asano to make an impact, as Japan were already trailing to Nigeria when Arsenal’s new signing made his entrance, just after half-time.
Asano was racing around like a ‘blue-Arsenal’ fly, chasing lost causes, in a manner not unlike a headless chicken, initially. That changed to a more mature performance as he struggled for breath after injecting enthusiasm into a lifeless Japan team.
Although, the comeback was incomplete when the final whistle went and Japan still trailed by 5 goals to 4, Asano had done enough to raise expectations of Arsenal fans.
One thing Arsenal fans will not want to do is heap too many hopes on Asano’s head. If he’s so good, some will say, why was he left on the bench by his national team manager for the opener?
Of course, most Arsenal fans expect Asano to be loaned out. However, based on his performance, he may be able to add more value than supporters first thought to a Premier League squad that still lacks depth going into the forthcoming campaign.