Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu faces toughest test against Liverpool after flying start to Arsenal career

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Takehiro Tomiyasu has immediately become an important player for Arsenal since joining from Bologna  (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Takehiro Tomiyasu has immediately become an important player for Arsenal since joining from Bologna (Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Takehiro Tomiyasu has made a flying start to life in the Premier League, but he faces his toughest test this weekend when Arsenal travel to Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp’s side look back to their best this season, certainly when it comes to going forward, and in Mohamed Salah they have arguably the best player in the world right now.

It promises to be stern examination for Tomiyasu, but the Japan international can go into the game at Anfield full of confidence after his strong start at Arsenal.

Plenty of clubs where scouting Tomiyasu last season, including Everton and Tottenham, and even before the summer transfer window opened Bologna feared they would lose him.

Italian clubs including AC Milan and Atalanta had also shown an interest, but it was not until Arsenal came calling on the final day that the defender finally bid farewell.

“Am I happy with my Bologna? Until yesterday I was…today a little less,” said Bologna boss Sinisa Mihajlovic the day after the transfer window closed.

“The sale of him was foreseeable, but one day before the end of the transfer market, we are a little sorry.”

Tomiyasu’s move to Arsenal was recognition of his fine form over two years in Serie A.

The first of those he played as a right-back, but he moved into a more central role last year. The 23-year-old is happy in either position, telling Mihajlovic last season that he would play anywhere as long as he is on the pitch.

Arsenal scouts were impressed by Tomiyasu’s ability on the ball and the fact he is comfortable playing with either foot. Manager Mikel Arteta wants the team to be able to switch play quicker and Tomiyasu has shown in his opening few months that he is able to cut onto his left foot and ping a pass to the opposite full-back.

Those at Arsenal’s training base at London Colney have been pleased with how well Tomiyasu has slotted into life in north London. A big part of Arteta’s rebuild is around the attitude and culture of the club and Tomiyasu has so far been an ideal fit, impressing staff with his work rate and commitment.

Both on and off the pitch, there is little fuss around him and he goes about his work quietly and diligently, never causing any problems.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Tomiyasu’s size has made a big difference to Arsenal’s defence and it is little surprise to learn that his family thought he would be a swimmer growing up. Both his older sisters swam as children and Tomiyasu was due to as well, but a freak chin injury sustained on his grandmother’s treadmill meant he started playing football instead.

He has never looked back from there, catching the eye of Barcelona scouts as a youngster. Tomiyasu always dreamed of playing abroad and it was after a 5-1 defeat playing for Japan’s Under-19s against England in 2015 that he decided he needed to move to Europe.

A transfer to Belgian side Sint-Truidense eventually materialised and after 18 months there he signed for Bologna for around £7.5million.

The move was a valuable one for Tomiyasu, both on and off the pitch. On it, the defender’s game grew as tactically he broadened his horizons. That was part of the attraction regarding a move Italy, which is viewed by many as the home of defending.

Off the pitch, Bologna provided Tomiyasu with a new way of life. In Japan, he was often left to his own devices when out exploring in his free time, but in Italy he was stopped and asked for photos and autographs. It was an insight into the fans there and how he was becoming a household name.

Tomiyasu’s star has continued to rise at Arsenal and another fine performance at Anfield on Saturday would be a real statement.

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