Mainz - Yoshinori Muto made quite the impression at his 1. FSV Mainz 05 unveiling on Thursday. Despite superstar status in his homeland of Japan ensuring both local and international media were keeping a close eye on proceedings at the Coface Arena, the 22-year-old strolled into the press room modestly, wearing a sharply-tailored blue suit.
"He is certainly one of the best-dressed players we've ever unveiled," said the club's press spokesman, Tobias Sparwasser. "He even outshone the president [Harald Strutz], and that's saying something!" If Muto had impressed merely by his attire, then his first official words as a Mainz player raised eyebrows even further. "Hello, I'm Yoshinori Muto!" he exclaimed in near-flawless German. "I'm delighted to be able to play for such a great club and I'm…"
'I want to score goals'
Only then did he pause, wracking his brains before regaining his composure. "…I'm going to give everything for Mainz and although German is a tough language, I'm going to learn it. Thank you very much." On show was the very same composure and dedication which brought the young striker an impressive 23 goals in 51 J-League games with FC Tokyo, as well as 13 international caps. It is a tally thas hasturned him into one of the world’s hottest young properties, with his decision to join Mainz born of the promise of regular playing opportunities and the efforts made by the club's sporting director Christian Heidel to secure his signature.
"[His] Making that much effort to come to Japan really impressed me," explained Muto. "Now I'm intending to show what I can do here in Germany. I want to score and create goals." While Muto may have seemed at ease in his new surroundings, he is aware that, much like his Japanese predecessor at the Nullfünfers, Shinji Okazaki, he will have to put in the hard yards at the gym to prepare for the physical demands of Germany's top flight. "During my first training session, I had the impression that the defenders' legs were longer than in Japan," he added. "It was like they were coming from everywhere."
While it would be easy to compare the incoming Muto with the outgoing Okazaki - the highest-scoring Japanese player in Bundesliga history - there is plenty which sets the new man apart. Where Okazaki was a genuine centre-forward, Muto is versatile across the front line. "I've played the last two seasons in Japan as a centre-forward," he explained. "But although I haven’t spoken to [club coach] Martin Schmidt about the details yet, I think I'll be able to play wider here."
Once settled, however, Muto's aims with the Karnevalsverein are fairly simple. "Firstly I want to win as many games with Mainz as possible," explained the Tokyo native. "I also want to become one of the best players in the world. I'll work hard towards that." If he can manage that, he'll likely need more than one sharply-tailored blue suit to impress at future awards-dos.