Japanese striker turns down Chelsea move

Japanese striker Yoshinori Muto has turned down a move to Premier League champions Chelsea and is close to agreeing a five-year deal with Bundesliga club Mainz.

Mainz are believed to have agreed a fee of €3 million (£2.16m) with FC Tokyo for the 22-year-old forward.

The London club’s interest in Muto stemmed following fan agreement of a record shirt sponsorship deal with Yokohama Rubber. The deal which is worth €278 million over five years, according to club sources, requires that Chelsea recruit a young, marketable talent from Japan to facilitate advertising there.

A transfer had been agreed with Chelsea and the Tokyo club, but following Mainz’s interest, Chelsea are now expected to look elsewhere for a suitable recruit.

“In modern management you cannot close completely the door to a little bit of commercial interests,” said Jose Mourinho when news of his club’s bid for Muto emerged.

But at the same time a football club is always a football club and a top football club has only space for very good players or at least very good prospects.”

While Muto stated that he had been ‘flattered’ upon hearing about Chelsea’s interest, he had serious doubts about moving to a European club where he was unlikely to receive any playing time.  The recent change in UK work permit rules raised concerns that he would not be granted a visa to play in the Premier League and would end up being loaned out to one of Chelsea’s overseas feeder clubs like many before him.

Muto has been in free goal-scoring form for Tokyo FC, playing upfront on his own, but is still yet to establish himself in the national team where he is often deployed as a left forward.