There was much excitement about the arrival of Ryo Miyaichi at Arsenal when the Japanese youngster, straight out of high school, signed terms with the Gunners and immediately proceeded to catch the eye with some scintillating performances on loan at Feyenoord. Even if you felt like you had the best odds for betting on football, it was difficult to predict how the prodigy would adapt to life in England.
Ryo’s displays in the Netherlands were so impressive that some sections of the media there christened him ‘Ryodinho’. Unfortunately, with a succession of injuries not helping his cause, the winger was unable to live up to that early hype, and now after over four years at Arsenal, it has been confirmed that he has left the club to join Bundesliga second division side St. Pauli (via Arsenal.com).
Where did it all go wrong for Ryo? It is possible that, as a consequence of his displays with Feyenoord, rather too much was expected of him when he returned to North London. With his blistering pace undoubtedly his key asset, there were even hopes at one stage of fellow speed merchant Theo Walcott being deployed on one wing and Ryo playing on the other, but the problem with Ryo was that he struggled to add much more to his game beyond his agility.
Ryo’s crossing and decision making still leave much to be desired, and although he is a hard worker who tracks back willingly, he seemed rather fazed by the hectic nature of English football, particularly with regards to the physical side of the game.
As well as spending much time on the sidelines due to various injuries, Ryo also managed to fit in a further three loan spells during his Arsenal career – at Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic, and FC Twente – but he failed to perform to anything approaching the lofty standards that he reached at Feyenoord. There were some encouraging moments during his time at Bolton, but he still wasn’t able to perform consistently.
Indeed, his stock had plummeted so low by last season that during his spell with Twente he featured primarily for their reserve team as opposed to their senior side.
Ryo leaves Arsenal with seven first-team appearances to his name, only one of which came in the Premier League. It’s possible that Ryo was only purchased for marketing purposes to appease the club’s Asian fans. That argument doesn’t really stand up though, and it seems that Arsene Wenger, initially at least, was a big believer in Ryo’s talent.
Now however, the 22-year-old will have to work arduously to get his once promising career back on track. Starting off in a lower division may well help him, but right now it is difficult to envisage him becoming the player that many hoped he would.