Wasted season for Arsenal’s Ryo Miyaichi

Unfortunately, it’s been a wasted season for young winger Ryo Miyaichi. The 20-year-old Japanese international has been out on loan with fellow Premier League club Wigan since the start of the campaign and things certainly haven’t gone well for him. Miyaichi has now been loaned out to Dutch club Feyenoord as well as Bolton and Wigan in the last three seasons and it’s arguable if he’s been developing or not.

He played well in Holland and for Bolton, but has been plagued with serious injuries this season. This has kept him on the sidelines for most of the year and he’s played in just seven matches. He started only once for manager Roberto Martinez and the other six appearances were as a substitute. The speedy winger has been with Arsenal since January 2011, but was sent packing straight away to Holland where he got his feet wet with Feyenoord.

After returning to the Gunners, he was sent to Owen Coyle’s Bolton side last year where he got his initiation in the Premier League. He scored FA Cup and league goals and the Bolton fans were so impressed with him that they voted him as the team’s player of the month shortly after arriving at the club. He also impressed Coyle due to his speed and the way he takes on defenders. The manager said Miyaichi has several strengths as a football player as he can play with both feet, has great pace and temperament, and also displays a lot of intelligence during games.

However, Arsenal fans haven’t really had the chance to see this firsthand due to the youngster’s loans and injury problems. To make matters worse, Miyaichi had to undergo surgery on his right ankle on March 14. This was needed to repair ligament damage after injuring it just a couple of weeks ago in Wigan’s 3-0 FA quarterfinal win at Everton. It was his first match back from a previous injury and he didn’t last very long at all.

Martinez brought him on as a substitute and about 30 minutes later Miyaichi himself had to be replaced due to the injury. This meant his opportunity of becoming the first Japanese player to take part in an FA Cup Final had definitely been thrown out the window since his season was officially over. Martinez, like Coyle, was also impressed with the player and stated on Wigan’s official website,

“It’s a real shame that Ryo has suffered this injury after working so hard to regain his fitness following a setback earlier in the season. His professionalism and work ethic on a daily basis have always been superb and we’ll do everything we can to help him make a speedy recovery.”

It’s obviously great news for Arsenal to hear how impressive their player has been at every club he’s played at, but he’s far too valuable to risk anymore and it’s about time manager Arsene Wenger kept him at the Emirates. Yes, it’s hard to blame anybody for injuries, but sometimes they’re caused by a team’s circumstances and their playing style. Also, you never really know what type of medical treatment players are receiving at other clubs.

Martinez said he’d like to have Miyaichi back at Wigan again next season, but unless he can guarantee Wenger that he’ll be playing regularly, then he should be kept at Arsenal. No offense to Wigan, but if Miyaichi doesn’t get regular minutes there, he’d be better off training on a daily basis with the squad full of internationals that Arsenal possesses. He’ll develop at a quicker pace and learn a hell of a lot more by training with world-class players than he would by sitting on the bench with Wigan.

If Martinez guarantees he’ll play Miyaichi, then yes, I’d consider sending him out on loan for one more year. He’s now 20 years old and it’s time he was given a chance to shine at his own club. We’ve seen how well youngsters such as Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling and West Brom’s Romelu Lukaku, who’s on loan from Chelsea, can play in this league, and their still teenagers. Miyaichi has a great future ahead of him if he can stay healthy and has the chance to test his skills against the best in the world. Arsenal needs to weigh their decisions carefully when it comes to him.

Wherever he ends up playing next year, let’s hope that Miyaichi actually gets the opportunity to play and can stay injury free.

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