Saturday, April 29, 2023

Arsenal told when they can complete Kaoru Mitoma transfer after Brighton make £30m decision

Brighton star Kaoru Mitoma has attracted significant transfer interest following an impressive 2022/23 season on the south coast. The Japan international has recently emerged as the latest gem unveiled by the Seagulls after he was signed from J1 League side Kawasaki Frontale for just £2.7million in 2021.

From 34 appearances in all competitions, Mitoma has grabbed 10 goals and seven assists and therefore been a driving force behind Brighton’s unlikely push for European football. Subsequently, both Chelsea and Arsenal have shown a keen interest to bring the 25-year-old to London.

Brighton are no strangers to fellow English clubs targeting their players and CEO Paul Barber has admitted that he’s ready to fend off offers for the £50million-rated winger in the summer.

Speaking to The Beautiful Game podcast last month, he said: “Obviously he’s [Mitoma] another player that will be in the spotlight in the next transfer window. “We’re ready for that and we understand that, we just hope he can have a great second half of the season. We’re very fortunate from a financial point of view that we’re not a club that has to sell players to survive.”

Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi also appears to be expecting interest in Mitoma this summer to be prominent, but his stance on an imminent departure has been made pretty clear. At an open training session earlier this month, young supporters were given the opportunity to ask De Zerbi some questions, with one fan asking him if he wanted to be Mitoma.

“Yes, because he is very fast,” De Zerbi replied. “At the end of the session, I spoke with Mitoma. I ask him, ‘how are you?’ I said, ‘listen, we have to improve in some situations of the football’. He said, ‘okay coach’. I said, ‘yes but we have a lot of time this year and next year!'”

Then, with a wry smile, De Zerbi looked around the room at the journalists present and said: “Okay. But do you understand? ‘Yes. Yes, I understand,’ he said.”

With perhaps a little less humour, De Zerbi has again given his thoughts on Mitoma’s future with a clear message to any interested clubs over when they can sign the winger. Speaking ahead of the Premier League clash against Wolves, he said: “He needs to stay here one more year, for him and for us.”

With Brighton likely very aware of teams making their players transfer targets, replacements are usually identified well in advance. When Moises Caicedo was heavily linked with a January departure, the Seagulls signed AIK midfielder Yasin Ayari for £5.3million.

A possible replacement for Mitoma now looks to be on the verge of completion with Fabrizio Romano revealing that Brighton are closing in on the signing of Joao Pedro from Watford.

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