Rafa Benitez believes Yoshinori Muto has endured an ‘unlucky’ start to life on Tyneside, admitting that he’s had to play the Japanese striker out of position in his four appearances for the club so far.
Since making the £9.5m move from Mainz, Muto has been forced to play in the number 10 role, making only one start so far in the away defeat to Nottingham Forest – with his other three appearances being from the bench against Spurs, Cardiff and Chelsea.
Benitez has insisted that he is a striker, however – even if he is able to play off the front our out wide.
Here’s what he’s had to say about the 26-year old after his slow start at St James’ Park:
“I think he’s a striker. We are missing a couple of positions and he can play those so he has had to play in those. To be fair, he has been unlucky.
“When he went on at Cardiff, we had to change the system and he had to go as a midfielder, and against Chelsea when we put him on the pitch, we changed to 4-1-4-1 at the end, so he had to go back too.
“He was not playing in his ideal position in the games he has played.”
Benitez picked out his movement as one of his best traits after he was signed earlier in the summer, so it seems he may be wasted played in a slightly more deep role off the striker – with him known to be a player who likes of play on the shoulder and get in behind.
Fortunately, we’ve also got Rondon – and Joselu has started the season better than most expected – so the pressure is not on Muto as much as it may have been, but it would be great if he can find his feet and show us what he can do as soon as possible.
One question I would have – If he’s a striker, how does he fit in the team? Rondon is clearly Rafa’s number one option and a big man seems essential in Rafa Benitez’s system, so Muto’s best chance of game time may just be in that number 10 role?