The Loan Report: Takuma Asano

Takuma Asano signed for Arsenal in July 2016 after impressing Arsene Wenger whilst playing for Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the Japanese J-League.
Asano had signed for Hiroshima at the age of 18 and made one appearance as his club went on to win the J1 League. They also went on to win the Japanese Super Cup that same season. The young Japanese striker continued his winning spree by winning the cup again in 2014. By 2015, Asano had established himself as a first team player scoring 9 goals in 34 league appearances as the side went on to win the J1 league, again, and Japanese Super Cup. That year he was named J-League’s Rookie of the Year.
Arsenal signed the Japanese international, with Wenger describing him as ‘a talented young striker and very much one for the future.’ However, Asano was denied a work permit to play in the Premier League and so in August 2016 he was loaned out to VfB Stuttgart in the 2. Bundesliga.
Asano had a slow start to life in Germany, with Stuttgart breaking him in gently, especially after his exploits for Japan at the Rio Olympics. Initially Asano found himself played in numerous positions, although he has now started the last three league matches. He has recently been played wide right and also as a second striker with the latter seemingly more suitable for Asano, allowing him to create more chances.
So far he has played 16 matches, scoring 2 and assisting 4.
Asano had, of late, been frustrated by his lack of goals but Stuttgart manager Hannes Wolf has been happy with his loan signing and described him as “extremely valuable” to the side.
There is an option to extend his stay for another year at the German club.
Asano possesses great pace, and has the ability to dribble at defenders at speed. His movement off the ball has impressed me and he certainly seems a composed finisher, although it remains to be seen how he would perform at a higher level.
With Stuttgart top of 2. Bundesliga by 5 points, promotion is a possibility. Perhaps then another season in Germany would do him the world of good and then we would get to see what Asano could do playing in the Bundesliga.
Asano certainly has talent, and his speed and skill would fit in well for Arsenal. He definitely has not just been brought in for merchandise purposes. The 22-year-old just needs a chance to prove himself at a higher level.

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