When Kyogo Furuhashi was transferred to Celtic F.C. this summer, Vissel Kobe were not just losing the league’s top goalscorer; they were also losing one of their top creators, a tireless runner and the unquestioned star of their deadly attack. Replacing that is seemingly impossible, but Vissel may have done just that by signing Yoshinori Muto.
Muto was once one of the top players in the MEIJI YASUDA J.LEAGUE, scoring 23 goals in his last season-and-a-half with F.C.Tokyo, while also playing the role of playmaker for the club. He earned himself a regular place with Japan's Samurai Blue and a move to Mainz in Germany, where he scored 20 goals in three Bundesliga seasons before moving on to Newcastle of the English Premier League and Eibar in Spain’s LaLiga. Now, at just 29 years old and still in terrific shape, he is back in the domestic league, this time with Vissel.
The signing of Muto was a godsend for Vissel. Very few players could even hope to fill the shoes of the departed Furuhashi, but Muto is a proven star who could be the new center of the attack in Kobe.
Muto has only played six matches for the Ushi thus far, but he’s already showing he is still the same magnificent player. He picked up three assists in his first four games for the club, demonstrating his creativity and passing, then he scored in both of his next two matches.
Six games, three assists, two goals - Muto is doing it all in the Vissel diamond-covered shirt.
The Kobe side have needed Muto to be as good as he has been right away, not only because of the hole he was filling, but because they are in a heated fight for a place in next season’s AFC Champions League.
They currently sit in fourth place, level on points with fifth-place Urawa Reds and only three points behind third-place Nagoya Grampus. It’s going to be a heated fight right down to the end and every point will be crucial, but this weekend takes on added importance for the Ushi as they welcome Urawa to Noevir Stadium Kobe.
With Muto leading the way, though, Vissel are confident heading into any match, no matter how big.