Newcastle United supporters can be forgiven if they had completely forgotten about Yoshinori Muto. The Japan international has had very limited opportunities since he arrived on Tyneside.
Muto has made just 28 appearances since arriving in 2018, of those 28 appearances, 17 have been as a substitute. Neither Steve Bruce or Rafael Benitez have put faith in Muto to deliver. Which raises the question, why?
Benitez was reluctant to play the striker due to the language barrier, with the exception of Ki who has now left the club, no other player could speak Japanese. Muto has quietly knuckled down and made tremendous strides with his English. Newcastle have struggled for goals this season, perhaps it is time to give Muto a much needed chance to prove his worth.
With Joelinton struggling for confidence and form, while Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle struggle to remain fit for long periods, it is astonishing that Muto has not even been considered for selection.
Muto is a nuisance for opposing defenders, constantly chasing and allowing them little time on the ball. Something Newcastle lack, for all the pace in the side there are few players in the side that press the opposition. There is no doubt that Joelinton needs more support than he has had so far this season, Muto could be the ideal strike partner for the Brazilian. Traditionally the big man, little man has been a great combination.
Newcastle need to look at the top end of the pitch during the transfer window, no matter who the owner come that time. For now though, Bruce needs to find a way to bring more goals to this side - Overlooking a striker, who is fit and raring to go could well be a foolish move.
Muto has seen his career stagnate since arriving at Newcastle, the restart of the Premier League is a great opportunity for Muto to catch Bruce’s eye. The Japan international netted Newcastle’s opening goal in a behind-closed-doors friendly, against Middlesbrough. A goal that would give Muto a much needed confidence boost.
Muto’s days at Newcastle may well be numbered, even so on a personal note, Muto has a chance to prove to Bruce and Newcastle supporters that he can deliver, and he has what it takes to be a success in the Premier League.
It is difficult to adapt to the Premier League, especially when a player does not speak the language, Joelinton has discovered this. With Muto seemingly mastering the English language, it is high time he got more minutes on the pitch. The only thing Muto can do is train hard and impress in these training sessions, in order to be considered for selection.
Bruce has admitted previously that Muto has not had a fair chance to impress. At 27, Muto is entering the prime of his career and cannot afford to be in a Henri Saivet situation. Stuck at the club with no escape route and no opportunities to play.
It remains to be seen whether Muto will indeed get a chance to impress during the final games of the season. However, the one thing Newcastle lack is goals and introducing Muto to the team could prevent an unwanted end of season scrap.