Miyaichi sets sights on Arsenal berth


Kyodo News

YOKOHAMA — Promising teenage striker Ryo Miyaichi is confident he can succeed where Junichi Inamoto failed when he joins English Premier League powerhouse Arsenal next month after impressing in a trial with the Gunners.

The last time Arsenal looked to the Far East for young talent they signed midfielder Inamoto from Gamba Osaka in 2001 but Japan’s 2002 World Cup hero failed to work his way into the first team.

He did not make a single league appearance after his $5.7 million move and was limited to just two outings in the League Cup and a pair of cameo roles in the Champions League before leaving to join Fulham.

Although Miyaichi admits there are aspects of his game that require polishing, the Chukyodai Chukyo High School captain is confident he can make the grade at the North London giants.

“I’m confident I have the ability to penetrate defenses over there and hopefully I’ll be given the marks that I am looking for,” Miyaichi said on Friday.

“I just have to go there and give it a shot, compete and hopefully one day I will be standing on the pitch at Emirates Stadium,” he said.

Always on the lookout for precocious talent, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, who had a spell in charge of current Japanese league champion Nagoya Grampus, spotted Miyaichi when he played at the Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria last year.

“He (Miyaichi) trialed with us in the summer and has raw ability which has attracted many clubs around the world. I look forward to helping him fulfill his potential here at Arsenal,” Wenger said in announcing the acquisition last month.

Miyaichi has already been likened to Arsenal legend Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo for his pace down the wings, his tricky feet and his eye for goal, but the affable 18-year-old was quick to laugh off the comparisons.

“I don’t feel pressured (by the comparisons) but I know in myself that I have nowhere near the talent of such great players as Cristiano Ronaldo and Thierry Henry,” he said. “I just have to do my best to one day come close to being the kind of players they are.”

Miyaichi was speaking after what turned out to be his last game in Japan before heading for London as Chukyodai was beaten 4-2 by Kumiyama in the first round of the high school championship.

Miyaichi was on target as Chukyodai took a 2-1 lead into the halftime break but missed a couple of decent chances in the second period as Kumiyama fought back to take control.

“I had chances to finish today and that is something that I need to work on,” Miyaichi said.

“In the second half we dropped too deep and I didn’t see as much of the ball because the defense was struggling. Our heads dropped after their third goal went in,” he said.