Arsenal are reportedly keen on signing Brighton and Hove Albion winger Kaoru Mitoma at the end of the season, but they may have to cough up a sizeable transfer fee.
The Japan international has been a joy to watch this season and has been indicative of the Seagull’s fantastic recruitment over the last few years.
Mitoma’s fine form has not gone unnoticed by Mikel Arteta, who is believed to be very keen on penning a deal for the 25-year-old.
The attacker arrived at the Amex in 2021, for a bargain price of £2.7m from Japanese outfit Kawasaki Frontale.
Mitoma then enjoyed a successful loan spell at Belgian side Union Saint Gilloise last season, where in 29 appearances he scored eight goals and made four assists.
This season though, he has been a revelation for Brighton, scoring seven in 20 appearances across all competitions, most recently netting a 90th-minute winner against Bournemouth on Saturday.
His path to the Premier League has been a unique one. Mitoma was offered a professional contract by Kawasaki Frontale at the age of 19 but deemed he was not yet ready to make the step up.
Instead, he opted to go to University to study physical education, writing his thesis on dribbling in football.
That decision has definitely paid off, as he has now established himself as one of the most exciting wingers in the Premier League.
Fabrizio Romano reveals Mitoma’s £35m valuation
According to Fabrizio Romano, writing for Caught Offside, several big clubs are vying for Mitoma’s signature, but Arsenal are believed to be leading the race.
He states that Brighton will demand at least £35m for the Japanese international next summer, after enjoying a fantastic start to his career in England.
The Gunners have already signed one former Seagulls star this season, in the form of Leandro Trossard. However, the Seagulls are unlikely to let Mitoma leave as easily.
Roberto de Zerbi’s side have been in tremendous form this season, currently sitting in sixth place in the Premier League table, just six points adrift from the top four with one game in hand on Newcastle and Manchester United.
With that in mind, Brighton would be likely to play hardball if bids come in for Mitoma, after proving in January with Moises Caicedo that they won’t be bullied by their rivals.
If Arsenal could get a deal over the line at the end of the season though, he would give Arteta another excellent forward option.
So far, he has averaged 0.45 goal contributions per game for Brighton this season, putting him up there with the very best in terms of attacking statistics.
Also, given Mitoma has only just broken onto the scene in England, he has the potential to get even better.
Indeed, if the winger can continue on his current trajectory, the Brighton man could go on to be a top player for many years to come.