Rafa Benitez has made no secret of his desire to sign a new striker for Newcastle United this summer, with target men like Salomon Rondon and Nicolai Jorgensen claimed to be at the top of his wish list.
So the impending arrival of the 5ft 10ins Japanese international Yoshinori Muto has perhaps come somewhat out of the blue. The Mail broke the news on Wednesday that the Mainz striker was in advanced talks ahead of a sudden move to St James’ Park.
And, while he is not the record-breaking arrival that Benitez wanted this summer, Muto will not come cheap.
According to the Mirror (live blog, 11.43am), the former FC Tokyo phenomenon is likely to cost £13.5 million, which would make him the fourth most expensive signing in Newcastle’s history. Only Michael Owen, Alan Shearer and Gini Wijnaldum cost the Tyneside club more.
Muto is a quick and instinctive goal-scorer who boasted a record of around one-in-three for a Mainz side who narrowly avoided relegation from the Bundesliga last season. He is also renowned for his insatiable work ethic and harrying of opposition defenders, meaning he will surely have an admirer in Benitez.
“His potential was amazing, I didn’t see for a long time such an intelligent player like Muto,” Ranko Popovic, the manager who gave Muto his chance at FC Tokyo, said in quotes reported by the Chronicle.
“I’m 100 per cent sure Muto can be refreshing for the Premier League.”