Arsene Wenger has confirmed the Gunners will be without Takuma Asano for the whole 2016/17 season after the Japanese youngster failed to secure a work permit.
The 21-year-old was signed for £5million from Sanfrecce Hiroshima earlier this summer and Wenger had been hopeful of promoting the striker to the first team squad.
Asano has represented his country at senior level on five occasions and impressed for the Japanese Olympic team during this month’s tournament in Brazil, but hasn’t met the requirements to feature in the Premier League.
“He’s a player I believe in a lot. I will take care of him & make sure he gets to the right place,’ said Wenger after confirming the player’s application had been unsuccessful.”
Pressed on why Asanano’s work permit had been rejected, he added: “Because he didn’t cost £50 million.”
A diminutive player – the 21-year-old stands at just 5ft 7in – he possesses good close control and constantly buzzes around the forward line, dragging defenders out of position to create space for others or making surging late runs into the box.
For much of his Hiroshima career he has operated in a deeper or wider role in the club’s 3-4-2-1, and although his goal return has been modest, he’s set up plenty for the other forwards at the club.
Given that Wenger also favours a lone frontman, it’s entirely plausible that Asano could operate either in behind or to the right of that player, which may be his best route to eventual first-team football with the Gunners.
While there have been some questions over his general technical ability, Asano does possess a strong passing game, is a good dribbler and is deceptively strong in the air. His best attribute, though, is undoubtedly his blinding pace.