Yoshinori Muto is on his way to Tyneside, that is the breaking news from Sky Sports on Thursday morning.

The broadcaster reports/claims that a £9.5m transfer fee has been agreed with Mainz.

The player having flown out of Haneda (Tokyo) Airport this morning (Japan is eight hours ahead of UK time) and told reporters that he was set to join a new club but couldn’t say which one at the moment.

The player himself then posting a photo of himself on social media, on the plane.

Yoshinori Muto cost Mainz £2.5m in 2015 and last season scored eight goals and got two assists.

The Mag earlier today (Thursday 26 July 2018):

Yoshinori Muto has flown out of Japan on Thursday morning.

The striker giving an enigmatic answer on which club he is going  to join.

The 26 year old stating ‘I can’t say yet but I should be able to deliver good news soon (on identity of his new club).’

However, he does admit he is looking  forward to playing in a more ‘competitive environment’ and trying to get into double figures in this coming season.

Yoshinori Muto did score 13 goals in Japanese domestic football one year but eight goals last season had been his best in the Bundesliga in the three years at Mainz.

Newcastle were first linked with the forward back in March (see below), the German media claiming Rafa had been having the player watched throughout the season.

This week has seen the link resurface and along with many other players who were out in Russia, this will be the time when Yoshinori Muto and many others at the World Cup (he played just once, the 1-0 defeat to Poland), will be returning to their clubs, or signing for new ones…

Media reports have claimed a big difference in valuations, with Mainz supposedly holding out for £17m and Newcastle/Ashley only willing to pay £9m.

The media in both Germany and Japan seem pretty confident this deal is on, so it will be a relief if Rafa Benitez has landed at least one of his targets. However, he doesn’t look like the out and out  goalscorer who potentially looks capable of getting the 15+ goals that Newcastle were desperate for.

In our Mike Ashley reduced circumstances though, he looks a decent signing (if it comes off) and one who will work hard as well as hopefully get that double figures goal tally.

Mainz were almost relegated last season and stayed up in 14th (of 18) spot, with Muto starting 20 of the 34 league games. He has started 30 Bundesliga matches the last two years and  in the same time been named on the bench 20 times, so again, we have to be realistic about who we are signing here, and not expect him to be the total answer to our poor goalscoring of last season.

With Aleksandar Mitrovic surely set to leave despite no quick deal happening, you would hope/expect that if Yoshinori Muto does indeed sign, then Rafa will be able to bring in at least one other attacking player capable of scoring goals as well.

Kyodo News:

Japan striker Yoshinori Muto on verge of sealing Newcastle deal

Japan international striker Yoshinori Muto is closing in on a deal with Newcastle United…

According to sources, Newcastle are in the final stages of talks with the German club.

Muto told reporters at Haneda (Tokyo) airport Thursday:

“I can’t say yet but I should be able to deliver good news soon (on identity of his new club).

“I believe I’ll grow as a player if I put myself in a competitive environment.

“My goal is to net 10 goals, a number I haven’t reached during a season (outside of domestic football in Japan).”

The Mag – 29 March 2018:

Newcastle United have made an approach for Yoshinori Muto according to reports from Germany on Thursday morning.

Kicker say that Newcastle have been watching the Japanese international throughout this season and have now made an enquiry regarding a potential transfer this summer.

The German publication say that a number of clubs have shown an interest but only name Newcastle United.

They add that the striker is desperate to move to the Premier League and follow the path of Leicester’s Shinji Okazaki who also played for Mainz.

On the surface, the goals record of Yoshinori Muto isn’t outstanding since moving there from FC Tokyo in summer 2015.

The striker scored seven league goals in his first season in Germany, then five last year and seven so far this time.

However, playing for regular relegation strugglers (fourth bottom last season and third bottom currently), the striker’s job has been a tough one.

When it comes to goals per games started though, his record looks a lot better.

Yoshinori Muto has scored 19 goals (and eight assists) so far in only 45 Bundesliga starts (plus 17 appearances as a substitute).

Now 25 years old, the Japanese international has only one more year left on his four year contract and any transfer fee should easily be within Newcastle’s reach.

The striker has an interesting story, having combined studying for an Economics degree whilst still playing for FC Tokyo, completing that degree a few months before moving to Germany.

A mobile versatile striker who can complement a main striker, obviously that is exactly the role that Rafa Benitez is desperate to fill.

Obviously that is a long way from Newcastle actually bidding for Yoshinori Muto but he is yet another one for the pile of potential targets, that would be affordable.

Jackie Smithfield