Chelsea firm up Asian links with move for striker

Frank Dalleres
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JAPAN forward Yoshinori Muto insists Chelsea have lodged a bid for him but that he is yet to decide whether to swap the J-League for Stamford Bridge this summer.

Muto, 22, can play anywhere along the front three and has scored 17 goals in 43 appearances for FC Tokyo, as well as once in 11 international appearances. Reports in Japan say Premier League leaders Chelsea have offered £4m for Muto, who was quoted as saying: “I’m honoured to receive an offer from this wonderful team, but I have not made any decision yet.”

A move to the Blues would strengthen the club’s ties to Japan, two months after they struck a five-year shirt sponsorship deal with tyre-maker Yokohama Rubber believed to be worth £40m per season. That contract is thought to be the second largest ever of its kind in England, after Manchester United’s tie-up with car giant Chevrolet, which is worth more than £50m a year.

Muto, who would be Chelsea’s first Japanese player, only graduated from Keio University in Tokyo with a degree in economics last month and has started the new domestic season in form, with three goals in five games.