Ryo Miyaichi: Wigan Athletic Have Got Their Hands On The Japanese Ronaldinho

Off the back of a successful loan spell at Bolton, Arsenal's Japanese starlet is now set to spend the season with Wigan Athletic. Here is what the Latics can expect of 'Ryodinho'...
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Off the back of a successful loan spell at Bolton, Arsenal's Japanese starlet is now set to spend the season with Wigan Athletic. Here is what the Latics can expect of 'Ryodinho'...

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Every season a player emerges to become a new fan favourite with the Arsenal faithful; the 2011/12 season saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain make an immediate impact and much will be expected of him in the coming season. However another starlet in the form of a young Japanese prodigy appears to be eagerly awaiting his chance to win over Wenger and the Emirates’ spectators.

Ryo Miyaichi is an example of what Arsenal’s future looks like - hardworking, often quiet but determined, Ryo has his eyes set on making an immediate impact for Arsenal in the forthcoming season. For those who are unfamiliar with Ryo, you need look no further than his performances on loan at Bolton towards the end of last season; although the Wanderers were relegated it does not take away the fact that Miyaichi gave his all for his then boss Owen Coyle, who was a big fan of the lightning quick winger:

‘‘He’s wiry and takes kicks and he will be black and blue because of the knocks he takes, but he’s so positive when playing against good players. He went to Millwall in the last round and scored a wonder goal. He went to Chelsea and frightened the life out of their defenders and he did the same recently at Manchester City.’’

There is no doubt that Miyaichi has the mentality about him, commenting on his character, Mori Masatoshi, a well-known Japanese football writer, told the Telegraph:

‘‘The one thing that makes Miyaichi stand out is his character. Most Japanese players are too modest to succeed in England, but Miyaichi is strong, confident and aggressive. He is a pleasant and likeable boy, but he has the determination to succeed that others maybe didn’t have.’’

His character isn’t the only thing that makes the young Japanese prodigy stand out; his pace is enough to scare some of the best defenders in the world. Ryo almost defeated Theo Walcott, the fastest player in the Premier League on the running track, with a ridiculously quick time of 10.6 seconds. Theo has been one of the first to acknowledge his team-mate’s talent - whilst Ryo was on his loan spell last season Theo told Arsenal.com that he believes the Japanese star has it in him to scare the life out of the Premier League’s fullbacks:

‘‘The way he is playing, there are full backs out there now who are thinking, ‘I don’t want to play against him this week.’’

And the kid did just that; playing a total of nine games for Bolton towards the end of the 11/12 season Ryo was arguably the Wanderers’ best player. The stats don’t appear to make the lad out to be a world beater, with one goal and two assists in 11 games, however six of these appearances came from off the bench. His goal against in the F.A Cup in February against Millwall was the first sign of the impact Ryo would have, and his performances can’t be assessed on paper - you have to watch Miyaichi’s performances to understand how well he performed for Bolton, a team lacking in top class players.

His character isn’t the only thing that makes the young Japanese prodigy stand out; his pace is enough to scare some of the best defenders in the world.

At 19 and new to the Premier League Ryo was able to show up his colleagues and give Mr Wenger a lot to think about. Miyaichi was sent out on loan to Bolton to see if he could hack it at the top level, and Bolton was the best place for him to be sent. Jack Wilshere came back from his loan spell at Bolton a new player, and the boy had become a man - has it had the same effect on the young Japanese wonder? The Japanese Olympic team appeared to think not, as Ryo Miyaichi’s name was left off the list when Japan’s Olympic team was declared; a strange decision you would think, as Ryo falls into the under 23 age limit. Bemusing it may be, however, one has to wonder if Arsene Wenger had anything to do with the decision. We all know Arsene wouldn’t tell us if he did, however it seems plausible. Wenger has become known over the last couple of years for wrapping his young stars in cotton wool; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is one of Arsenal’s greatest prospects, but Wenger was reluctant to use him in situations which would put him under pressure, especially away games. Many fans believe that Ryo’s exclusion from the Olympics could hinder his progress, though I believe not; Ryo has been ever present on Arsenal’s pre-season tour of Malaysia, and some would argue that taking the Asian star is a smart bit of PR from the club. They need a poster boy for Arsenal’s huge Malaysian following to latch on to, and Ryo is the perfect choice.

In terms of his development however his exclusion from the Olympics will not have too much of an effect on the player. Wenger is integrating him into the squad pre-season, and it appears this is because Wenger looks to give Ryo a chance this forthcoming season. It would seem logical to send him out on loan, as there are a number of players in front of him, but Wenger always seems to make the illogical seem logical. A loan to Ajax seemed on the cards before the Dutch team pulled out of the race to sign the Arsenal winger; perhaps Wenger is waiting on an offer from an English club - by staying in the country Ryo can be considered a home-grown player, and not only would this help the winger in the future, but it would also help Arsenal fulfil their quota of home grown players that are compulsory for them to partake in the Premier League.

One can only imagine how the Premier League’s defenders will cope against Ryo and Theo on the same pitch.

So Ryo will be staying in England, but is it best that he stays at Arsenal and learns his trade by working with Arsenal’s coaches, or should he be thrown into the deep end and sent out on loan? It’s all a matter of refining his skills and working on the raw skills and talent he already possesses. Sending him to Stoke for example would only have a negative effect, and we don’t want the young lad returning to Arsenal a shadow of the player he was. By staying at Arsenal Ryo will have a certain place in Arsenal’s team for the newly named Capital One Cup, however when you look at his competition in front of him there is reason to believe that it would be best to send him on loan; the likes of Podolski, Gervinho, Oxlade-Chamberlain and maybe Arshavin stand in the way of Ryo’s progress.

The talent is there, the character is there - all that matters now is Arsene Wenger’s judgment. I for one look forward to seeing Ryo light up the Arsenal wing and strike fear into opposition defenders; one can only imagine how the Premier League’s defenders will cope against Ryo and Theo on the same pitch. It’s a frightening prospect and gives Wenger an extra option off the bench if an injection of acceleration is needed to help the team recover from the losing positions Wenger’s men often found themselves in last season. I suspect we will see the young Japanese sensation involved in the years to come, so keep an eye out at the DW Stadium next season, watch the back pages and spread the word. Ryo Miyaichi: the next Inamoto… but good.

This first appeared on The Gooner Report

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