Newcastle have announced that Japan forward Yoshinori Muto has completed his move to the club from Mainz after being granted a work permit at a hearing on Thursday.
Muto, who underwent a medical and agreed personal terms with the Magpies last week, has joined on a four-year deal.
The 26-year-old told Newcastle’s official website: “I am very happy to be a player for Newcastle. I am really looking forward to playing in front of the fans.
“As the first Japanese Newcastle player, I am honoured to be a player for such a big club. I hope to achieve good results – that is what I am here to do. I would like to perform well and leave my name in Newcastle’s history.”
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez said: “I am really pleased to have Yoshinori Muto with us. We were following him for quite a while. Hopefully he can bring us his energy and work-rate and help the team to improve and be better for the new season.”
Muto, who has scored 20 Bundesliga goals for Mainz over the past three seasons, is Newcastle’s fifth signing of the summer, with Martin Dubravka, Ki Sung-yueng and Fabian Schar having also joined on permanent deals, and Chelsea’s Kenedy starting a second loan spell with the club.
News of the Muto signing being finalised comes after Benitez was quoted by The Chronicle after Wednesday night’s 4-0 friendly loss at Braga that he was “really worried” about transfers.
And in his post-match press conference, he was quoted as saying: “It was a bad game. We did not do things the way we have to.
“Ten days before the start of the season now and this is a wake-up call. We have to realise we can’t make these mistakes.
“Things are not going well off the pitch and you can see a reflection of that on the pitch.”
When asked what he was referring to in terms of off-pitch matters, he said: “Everything.”
And when then asked if there were players close to coming in, he said: “I have no idea.” He gave the same response when asked if there was money to spend.
Benitez then said of Newcastle’s fans: “They have to be concerned. We are concerned.”
He also said he thought the club needed “three or four more players”.
He added: “We will try to change things in the next 10 days. We will try our very best.”
Deadline day is next Thursday, and Newcastle, who finished 10th in the Premier League last season, then begin their 2018-19 campaign two days later by hosting Tottenham.
Vidal, 31, has been linked with a move back to Serie A all summer with Internazionale.
But Mundo Deportivo have stated that the return of Brazil international Paulinho to Guangzhou Evergrande has forced a reassessment by the La Liga champions. They want to increase their options in the middle of the park and could be prepared to meet Bayern’s €30 million (Dh128.1m) demands for the Chile superstar.
Vidal has scored 22 times in 132 matches for the Bundesliga holders. He previously represented Juventus from 2011-15.
They look to be beginning 2018/19 with Yerry Mina in their ranks; a reserve defender who will live in infamy after being so culpable against Levante for the Catalans’ late failure to undertake a historic unbeaten La Liga campaign.
“The few minutes I did get, they were bad… it felt at times like everything was going wrong and coming down,” the 23-year-old frankly reflected to Bocas magazine last week, almost eight months since his arrival from Brazil’s Palmeiras.
“I felt like I couldn’t do anything right, such as even giving a pass in training.”
Words to worry any prospective employers. Never mind ones that are set to hand Barca a €28.2m (Dh120.4m) profit – representing a 239-per-cent return – on their €11.8m (Dh50.3m) initial investment.
The chase for Mina can seem hard to justify. But United can still make their sums work, in both the short and long term.
From the Guachene-native’s four La Liga starts, seven goals were conceded – including May’s infamous 5-4 debacle at Ciutat de Valencia.
In the aftermath, an excoriating review from Catalan sports daily SPORT said he “lived a real ordeal”, “came out in all the photos of the five goals” and lacked “the reactionary capacity or tactical resources” to prosper.
No wonder, then, that United only appear to be battling the likes of Lyon, Southampton, Everton and promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers for his signature.
Mina also does not possess a pedigree far in advance of resident centre-backs Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof or Marcos Rojo.
Hardly a statement signing to seemingly assuage the rancour – sparked by transfer market frustrations – that bedevilled Red Devils manager Jose Mourinho during a tour of the United States that contained a stream of toxic sound bites.
This state of affairs could exemplify a narrowing of horizons as the transfer window inexorably heads towards its early close on August 9 in the Premier League. Especially when Italy and AC Milan superstar Leonardo Bonucci was linked earlier in the window, along with soon-to-be World Cup 2018 winner Umtiti.
The €40 million (Dh170.8m) pursuit of Mina, eye-catching as a repeat goal scorer with Colombia in Russia, comes amid a baulking at gargantuan price tags placed on Leicester City’s Harry Maguire and Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld.
It also follows a revisiting of positive scouting reports when the statuesque stopper blossomed in South America.
United must hope a change of environment, more minutes and a deeper defensive line will coax out the player who reportedly rejected the advances of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in January 2017.
Mina is roughly half the price of £75m (Dh359.3m)-rated Maguire. But is he half the player?
A review of their World Cup statistics, where England defeated Colombia on penalties in the round of 16, appears to bear out the hothousing effect of the ‘Premier League premium’.
Per game, Maguire won more aerials (5.9/4.7), made more average passes (62.3/52.7) and produced fewer fouls (1/2).
Mina, however, led the way per game in tackles (1.3/1), clearances (7/2.6), dribbles (0.7/0.6), offsides won (0.7/0.3) and interceptions (1/0.6). He also produced three headed goals in three appearances, to Maguire’s one from seven.
Notably, he rose high above the static Three Lions defender to power home the late leveller that forced extra time at Otkritie Arena.
At two years younger (23/25) and one centimetre taller (195/194), it’s not only frugality from executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward – a former accountant – that has seen United turn towards Mina.
Alderweireld would have been the optimal recruit this window. Forget a rare injury-stained 2017/18 campaign, the Belgium star remains the Premier League’s elite defender.
At 29-years old, his mixture of experience and ability would have coaxed the best out of United’s resident quintet.
This is a transfer wish that can be revisited.
Alderweireld has a £25.4m (Dh121.7m) release clause that becomes active during the final 14 days of summer 2019’s market – if Spurs extend his contract by a further year to 2020. Far more affordable than the £50m+ (Dh239.6m+) figure demanded at present.
An incredible journey. The highs and the lows... the joys of football. Massive thankyou for your support throughout. Special mention to the manager for giving me this opportunity. @England 🏴🦁❤️ pic.twitter.com/YfWceqrIiL— Harry Maguire (@HarryMaguire93) July 14, 2018
Even the world’s richest club – as adjudged by Deloitte in January – must watch the bottom line.
A net spend of just £5m (Dh24m) will get Mina now, if Argentina’s Rojo is sold to Everton for a prospective £30m (Dh143.8m).
Buy Alderweireld next year and the total operation will cost roughly 50-per-cent less than buying the Belgium defender or Maguire today. A figure that can be turned into a zero-sum investment, or better, if United make space with another sale.
Woodward is mocked, relentlessly, for his lack of market smarts. But this is an operation that makes business, and sporting, sense.