Will Newcastle finally cut ties with Yoshinori Muto?
Background image: Glasgow Celtic, CC BY-SA 2.0
Newcastle could sell Yoshinori Muto in January. The 27-year-old is on the periphery at St James’ Park, behind Joelinton, Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll in Steve Bruce's pecking order. The Japanese international spent most of the season's first half out of the matchday squad. Bruce recently stated the Toon are in the market for another striker. Muto’s chances for more playing time look slim.
Another expensive flop
Muto joined Newcastle from FSV Mainz 05 in 2018 for £9.63 million [Transfermarkt]. In 26 appearances in all competitions, the 27-year-old scored two goals. He struggled in his debut season [17 Premier League appearances, zero goals] and started the 2019/20 campaign out of favour as a result. In seven league appearances this season, the Setagaya, Tokyo native remains goalless and mired in a 15-month goal drought.
Add £54k,000 weekly wages [Sportrac] over 18 months with a single goal to show in that span and success is the last thing anyone would call his signing. At best, he isn't Newcastle's most expensive flop. Joelinton cost £40 million, Allan Saint-Maxim £16 million. Each pegs his reputation on a lone goal this campaign.
Muto was given a place in Newcastle’s 23-man Premier League squad ahead of Jack Colback and Henri Saivet but no longer appears to have his manager’s faith. He's made only two league appearances since September. Lack of game time impacted his international career. He hasn’t made an appearance for Japan since their Asian Cup final defeat to Qatar last February, missing 16 matches.
Before his move to the North-East, Muto contributed 31 goals in 61 games for FC Tokyo and 34 in 72 for Mainz. It's fair to say he can't cope with the standard in England and may fare better off elsewhere. If United look to sell, they'll be forced to lower their valuation. Muto isn’t playing like a £10 million striker.
With Saint-Maxim, Joelinton, Carroll, Muto and Gayle rationing two Premier League goals between them, Newcastle are expected to bring in more firepower. Muto would be pushed further back in the queue if another forward arrives. His future at St James’ Park is uncertain.
In November, the Telegraph reported Muto was unhappy at Newcastle and wanted out. Given a rare runout in Newcastle’s FA Cup stalemate with Rochdale, last Sunday, he came away with a hip injury rather than plaudits.
Obviously, he won't want to spend the second half of the season on the bench or out of the matchday squad but there hasn't been any reported interest. An injury is will only frighten off potential suitors.
A loan could satisfy all parties. The striker could get regular football elsewhere with his wages covered. Alright, that wouldn't satisfy tight-fisted Newcastle owner Mike Ashley but it might be the lesser of all evils.
Newcastle spent more than £65 million on three strikers in the past two summer windows. Throw in the £27 million spent on attacking midfielder Miguel Almiron [two goals, one assist, 31 appearances since last January] and nearly £100 million has gone to waste. Meanwhile, Salomon Rondon's loan from West Brom wasn't made permanent and the club sold last season's leading scorer, Ayoze Perez, to Leicester. Their 25 goals are missed. While the players bear responsibility for poor performances, overall, it must be asked what Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley think they're doing?