Soccer

Chelsea targets FC Tokyo’s Muto

Kyodo

J. League club FC Tokyo said Thursday it has received a formal offer for Japan striker Yoshinori Muto from English Premier League leader Chelsea.

But the 22-year-old Muto, according to Tokyo, says he has “not made any decision yet” on a possible move and for the present moment will continue to focus on playing in Japan.

“An offer came from Chelsea at the start of March,” said FC Tokyo club president Naoki Ogane on Wednesday. “However whether or not he goes is up in the air.”

Chelsea in February signed a new shirt sponsorship deal worth £40 million a year with tire manufacturer Yokohama Rubber Co.

“It has been reported that (the move) would be part of a package with the sponsor but the club has not heard anything like that,” said Ogane.

Muto said: “I haven’t made any decision yet. Right now I am playing for FC Tokyo and I am only thinking about helping the club win the first stage (of the J. League championship). I have had a great offer and I am happy that I am rated (by Chelsea).”

Muto started his pro career at Tokyo last year while at Keio University and scored 13 goals to match the first-division record by a player in his rookie season. The fleet-footed striker made his debut for Japan in a 2-0 friendly defeat at home to Uruguay on Sept. 5 and has been capped 11 times. He opened his national team account four days later with his only goal so far in a 2-2 draw against Venezuela.