Premier League

Mitoma could be Arsenal’s Mudryk alternative if he can improve one thing

Cameron Smith
Kaoru Mitoma, Brighton, 2022/23

Arsenal’s number one January transfer target could be poached by London rivals Chelsea, with the Blues now set to hijack the Gunners’ move for Shakhtar Donestk star Mykahlio Mudryk.

Mudryk, 21, has been heavily linked with a move to the Emirates, but Arsenal are yet to meet Shakhtar’s valuation of €100 million. In fact, there remains a huge disparity between how much Arsenal have offered and how much Shakhtar want to receive.

As a result, the deal has stalled, despite Mudryk’s desire to join Mikel Arteta’s side. The young Ukranian winger has repeatedly praised both Arsenal and Arteta on his social media accounts and reportedly favours a move to the team currently top of the Premier League table.

READ: Chelsea close in on hijack of ‘perfect winger’ Mudryk

However, Chelsea are now firmly in the race to sign him, with Todd Boehly showing a willingness to spend enormous sums of money as he begins to show his spending muscle in the market.

According to The Sun, the Ukrainian side’s director and club legend Darijo Srna will meet Chelsea officials in London to discuss the move in the coming hours, with the Blues closing in on a potential transfer.

It means Arsenal may be forced to look elsewhere in a bid to improve their squad depth. The Gunners have been linked with a move for Atletico Madrid’s want-away star Joao Felix, while Youri Tielemans remains a target.

READ: Mykhailo Mudryk: Why the ‘Ukrainian Neymar’ is so deadly

However, one man who could be an excellent alternative to Mudryk is Brighton and Hove Albion star Kaoru Mitoma.

Why Mitoma would be the perfect Mudryk alternative

The 25-year-old was a bit-part player in Japan’s 2022 World Cup campaign, but was arguably their most influential player, providing energy and spark from the bench every time he was used.

In fact, given his form at Brighton, it’s a surprise he wasn’t used more in the tournament.

Mitoma spent the 2021/22 season on loan at Brighton’s sister club Union Saint-Gilloise, helping the Belgian side to reach the Europa League with eight goals and four assists in all competitions.

That prompted a return to Brighton ahead of the current campaign, with Graham Potter keen to embed him into the first-team on the south coast.

However, he was limited to just substitute appearances during Potter’s time in charge, with Mitoma’s speed and directness impressing in cameo appearances. Upon the arrival of Roberto De Zerbi, Mitoma was once again mostly used as an impact sub, but has now started in each of Brighton’s past five Premier League games and has begun making a real difference.

The Japanese international has netted three goals and one assist in his five league starts so far, and has caught the eye with his immense 1v1 ability. His acceleration over five yards is one of the best in England and his body feints enable him to create separation from opposition full-backs, before beating them with silky technique. His goal against Everton was his bread and butter, while his jinking run past Lyanco against Southampton almost resulted in one of the solo goals of the season.

Only two players with over 500 Premier League minutes can better Mitoma’s 2.2 completed dribbles per 90 this season, while he also ranks in the top two percent of attacking midfielders/wingers for tackles per 90 with 2.5. He also tops the entire Premier League for progressive carries per 90 with over 3.5.

He’s a two-way winger with immense close control, dazzling footwork and a brilliant five-yard burst, combined with a defensive presence too.

The only thing he needs to work on is his clinical edge in the final-third. His missed headed chance against Southampton was one such example that Mitoma must improve upon. But, he’s beginning to find a clinical streak and if he can add goals consistently to his game, then he’ll be one of the very best wingers in the Premier League.

He won’t come cheap, given how Brighton have sold the likes of Ben White and Marc Cucurella for in excess of €50 million, but Mitoma was be an astute alternative to Mudryk for Arsenal.

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