Kaoru Mitoma at Brighton: From the university dribbling thesis to brilliance in Belgium and finishing like Thierry Henry

As lately as October of 2021, Kaoru Mitoma had but to begin a sport since shifting to Europe. He was on mortgage and on the bench for Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium. But together with his workforce two targets and one man down to Seraing, they wanted one thing completely different.

Mitoma got here on at half-time. By full-time, he had impressed a unprecedented comeback, scoring an unbelievable hat-trick in a 4-2 win. “It was the Kaoru Mitoma show,” Christian Burgess, Union’s English defender, tells Sky Sports. “He just destroyed them.”

It was a glimpse of what’s turning into an more and more frequent sight for Premier League audiences. Since breaking into the Brighton beginning line-up in the thrashing of Chelsea, Mitoma has been a revelation, rising as one in all the most enjoyable gamers round.

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Kaoru Mitoma scored a surprising objective in Brighton’s draw at Leicester

His opening objective in opposition to Leicester on Saturday was his finest but, discovering the prime nook of Danny Ward’s web from exterior the penalty field. Leandro Trossard has left for Arsenal however Brighton supporters are already satisfied that his alternative might be even higher.

Mitoma impressed the comeback at Wolves, scored residence and away in opposition to Arsenal, started the latest rout of Everton and shone once more in beating Liverpool. A dribbler who can glide past defenders and an unusually calm finisher, the sight of him in full circulate is a pleasure.

Burgess had predicted this impression, whether or not it was tipping off a Brighton fan to stick him in his fantasy workforce or mentioning to their goalkeeper Jason Steele throughout a pre-season sport that Mitoma was the actual deal. It had not taken Burgess lengthy to be satisfied.

“I remember one of his first training sessions,” he says.

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“He was just electric. Those first few steps are so fast that he was destroying my friend Jonas Bager. Thankfully, he was on my team so me and this other Danish guy Casper Nielsen were just laughing at Jonas. He went past him three times with ease.

“Jonas isn’t somebody you need to wind up by doing that to him. He was like, ‘Watch this.’ The subsequent time he simply took Kaoru out. We have been simply laughing as a result of it was the solely approach to cease him. Jonas, bless him, isn’t the quickest, however no one actually had an opportunity.

“That was my first memory of him. You could just see he was very good. He had the technical ability and he obviously had the physical attributes. But he also had this coldness on the ball that made him a standout player who could make the transition.”

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Watch Kaoru Mitoma’s objective in Brighton’s thrashing of Everton

His opening objective at Goodison Park was maybe the clearest instance but of this explicit high quality. He touched the ball solely 3 times – one to evade Nathan Patterson, one other to skip past Conor Coady and the final to stroke the ball past Jordan Pickford.

As together with his objective in opposition to Arsenal simply days earlier, Mitoma handed it into the far nook. There have been solely a handful of examples of it simply but, however there have been sufficient of them to immediate an eye-opening comparability from his former team-mate in Belgium.

“He finishes like Thierry Henry,” says Burgess. “He is just so nonchalant at finishing into the far corner, whether it is in training and or in games. It is a strange one because most people panic but he seems to have so much time on the ball in those situations.”

Mitoma’s sport is about greater than targets. He is the solely participant in the Premier League to rank amongst the prime 10 for targets scored from open play and anticipated assists from open play per 90 minutes. In different phrases, no one is scoring and creating as frequently as he does.

It is his talent in one-on-one conditions that has allowed him to discover these positions, rating third for accomplished dribbles per 90 minutes this season. His outdated team-mate at Union may need been the first to be twisted inside-out on European soil however he was not the final.

Maybe it helps that Mitoma is a scholar of the sport, fairly actually. He selected to attend the University of Tsukuba reasonably than enter the skilled sport at 18 and it has since attracted appreciable media consideration that he wrote his thesis on the artwork of dribbling.

Curiously, it implies that he had one thing in frequent with Burgess, who was finding out historical past at the University of Birmingham when he was supplied a contract at Middlesbrough. Not that the two males have been conscious of their comparable routes into the sport at the time.

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“I found out on social media, it is an amazing story. Kaoru did not speak much English so you could not find out much about him. All we knew is that he had come from Japan, signed with Brighton, and now he was with us. We knew absolutely nothing about him.

“But he was a extremely good lad, very humble and quiet. He simply smiled all the time and laughed at the jokes even when he didn’t perceive however I believe he understood greater than he may say. At least he led us to consider that. But to get stuff out of him was more durable.

“It must have been so tough for him because he barely spoke any English so you did not hear much from him. Imagine not being able to communicate. But his English did improve during his time at Union because it is mainly an English-speaking club.”

Indeed, it isn’t the solely factor that improved. Perhaps that’s to be anticipated on condition that Mitoma has made solely 23 begins in league soccer since shifting to Europe. At 25, his university background may imply that he’s a late developer. There is extra to come.

“It is funny because he did not start every game for us. He used to come on when the opposition were a little bit tired and his pace would blow them out of the water. It was only as the season went on that he really got into it and started playing 90 minutes.

“A distinct facet to him started to come out in the play-offs. You noticed him combating much more. Against Club Brugge, he was actually placing his physique about. Add that winner’s perspective that he had to his high quality on the ball and you could have a particular participant in your palms.”

A similar process is happening at Brighton. Mitoma completed a whole Premier League game only once prior to the World Cup but has now done so in four of their last five matches. It underlines his growing importance, the sense that this could be his time.

“To see him enjoying at the World Cup was the icing on the cake, actually. I used to be proud to have performed with him. There was no ego with him so it’s very nice to see him doing so effectively at Brighton and he’s nonetheless younger so he’s going to develop. He is only a prime participant.”

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Sourse: skysports.com

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