MATSUMOTO, NAGANO PREFECTURE - Sanfrecce Hiroshima’s Japan striker Takuma Asano has received an offer from Premier League giant Arsenal, sources told Kyodo News on Wednesday.
The 21-year-old Asano, who on Friday is widely expected to be named to Makoto Teguramori’s Under-23 squad for the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympics, has five caps and one goal for the full national side.
Asano was penciled in the starting lineup for Wednesday’s U-23 friendly between Japan and South Africa.
A Hiroshima official said Sanfrecce and Arsenal have yet to enter full-blown discussions for Asano, one of the most promising players in Japan and one of the fastest in Asia. No fee has been immediately mentioned.
Should he sign, it is believed the Gunners will loan Asano out to acclimatize him to the European game and give him the experience to secure a work permit.
Sources with knowledge of the move say Asano has attracted multiple offers from Europe including Arsenal and the Bundesliga’s Augsburg, who have just signed Asano’s international teammate Takashi Usami from Gamba Osaka.
Soccer website Copa90 reported that Austrian outfit Salzburg and Grasshoppers in the Swiss top flight have also entered the sweepstakes for Asano, who was named the top young player in the J. League last season.
Arsenal’s offer, though, appears to be the most tempting for both Asano and Hiroshima.
If a deal is struck, Asano would be the third Japanese to sign with the Gunners after Junichi Inamoto and Ryo Miyaichi, who was let go by the North London club last season after five, injury-marred years under Arsene Wenger.