Arsenal had been impressed by the young Japanese player in 2010. He had arrived for a trial at the club. Miyaichi had been attracting interest from a number of clubs around the globe.
Arsene Wenger was convinced by Miyaichi’s talent and offered him a contract, which he signed in January 2011.
A few weeks later he was loaned out to Dutch club Feyenoord. Miyaichi made a sudden impact, playing 90 minutes in his first game and earning the man of the match award. The accolades kept coming and after appearing in 12 matches, scoring three goals and a handful of assists, the Dutch media had nicknamed him ‘Ryodinho’ and branded him the ‘Japanese Messi’.
The following season, the FA granted Miyaichi a work permit due to being an exceptional talent. There seemed no doubt he was a player with huge potential and made two appearances for Arsenal in the League Cup against Shrewsbury and Bolton Wanderers.
Come January 2012 he was loaned out to Bolton until the end of the season. Again, Miyaichi continued to impress as he was voted Bolton’s player of the month for February. At the end of the season he had played 14 times and scored one goal.
At the start of the 2012/13 season, Miyaichi found himself on loan again, this time for the season to Wigan Athletic. It was a frustrating time for the player as injury severely disrupted his season. Injuring his ankle ligaments twice. Miyaichi managed just 7 games all season.
The 2013/14 season was another chance for the Japanese youngster to showcase his skills this time at FC Twente. It was a disappointing season for Miyaichi. After not performing in the first team he was demoted to Jong Twente – FC Twente reserves.
On returning to Arsenal his contract was terminated. Miyaichi had struggled at FC Twente. The player that had been nicknamed Ryodinho by the Dutch press was now a completely different player. He was losing the ball on numerous occasions when dribbling and would give the ball away to easily when trying to pass. There seemed to be a lack of desire which would show on the pitch with his failure to track back and help the team.
When he first arrived at Arsenal he had the talent to go far and even his first few loan deals, he looked like a player with huge potential and had pace to burn. But there seemed to be a lack of belief.
Arsene Wenger once said of another Japanese player to arrive at the club “Inamoto lacked a little bit of belief in his qualities. He was still in a period when the Japanese players didn’t feel they were at the level of the rest of the world”.
Ah Junichi Inamoto, another player who promised so much but failed to deliver.
It seems that Ryo Miyaichi may have fallen into the same mind set of Inamoto. Currently he is playing in the German Second Division for cult club FC St Pauli having joined them in 2015, signing a three year contract. Injury has again blighted his progress. In his first season he tore his anterior cruciate ligament. He has recovered since and has played eight games this season in a struggling FC St Pauli side.
Even now Miyaichi is spoken of in terms of potential, he is still only 24, but whether his chance has gone playing for a top flight team we will have to wait and see.
Miyaichi started so well and great things were expected at Arsenal only for them to evaporate. It is a shame that he never had the belief to realise his full potential.