‘Tomiyasu has a mentality like Ronaldo’ – Inside the new Arsenal hero’s remarkable rise

The Japan international has made a huge impact since joining the Gunners from Bologna in the summer, quickly becoming a fan favourite in north London

Three games, three wins, one goal conceded.

When he arrived at Arsenal from Bologna on transfer deadline day, Takehiro Tomiyasu could not have dreamt of a better start to life in north London.

The Japan defender has made a huge impression during his first few weeks at the club, and made a mockery of those who labelled him as nothing more than a last-minute panic buy.

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When he joined, Arsenal were sat bottom of the table having conceded nine goals in their opening three Premier League games.

Now, just under a month later, they are 10th and have picked up maximum points from games against Norwich, Burnley and Tottenham, keeping two clean sheets in the process.

It has been a remarkable turnaround from Mikel Arteta’s side, and the Spaniard’s new right-back has been at the heart of it.

Tomiyasu has been imperious during his first three appearances for the Gunners, with Arsenal fans voting the 22-year-old as Man of the Match following Sunday’s north London derby victory against Spurs.

Not one player has managed to dribble past Tomiyasu yet during his first three appearances in the Premier League, while he has also won 14 of his 16 aerial duels, made 10 clearances, three tackles, two interceptions and has an overall duel success rate of 76 per cent.

So it is perhaps no surprise that he is in the running for Arsenal’s Player of the Month award for September.

The immediate impact the defender has made in north London will have surprised many people in England, but it has not come as a shock to Andre Pinto, the sporting director at Sint-Truiden, the Belgian club that first brought Tomiyasu to Europe in 2018.

“What is amazing about Tomi is that he doesn’t accept anything that isn’t success,” Pinto tells Goal during an exclusive interview. “He’s not lucky, nothing for Tomi comes because he’s lucky. He’s just a hard working player.

Tomiyasu is a player who has had his career mapped out from an early age.

When he was first coming through as a teenager back in his homeland with Avispa Fukuoka, he already knew the path that he wanted to follow: his ambition was always to make it to the Premier League.

It was a dream which grew following a game against England Under-19s in Manchester in 2016, when a side including Ainsley Maitland-Niles crushed Japan 5-1.

“That game was one big reason for me why I wanted to play in the Premier League,” Tomiyasu told Arsenal.com. “We couldn’t do hardly anything in that game.

“At that moment I thought that I have to one day get to the level where I could play in England.”

Tomiyasu was 17 at the time. Now, just five years later, he is exactly where he wants to be. And, just like his start to life at Arsenal, his journey to England has been swift.

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