Takuma Asano seems to have finally found his best form, playing with Partizan Belgrade in the Serbian SuperLiga.
Back in 2016, Takuma Asano signed for Arsenal, but he never made an appearance for the club in his three years before leaving. He was refused a work permit to play in the Premier League and struggled out on loans with VfB Stuttgart (twice) and Hannover 96.
It wasn’t all bad, and there were occasional positive moments during those three loan spells. But they were few and far between, interrupted by spells in the reserves or long stretches without goals.
So it was no great surprise when Asano left Arsenal permanently in 2019 to join Partizan Belgrade. He had a decent enough first campaign, but he’s really kicked on in his second.
The forward has 12 goals and five assists in 23 matches this season, already the second-best goal tally of his professional career. The only time he beat that was in scoring 18 goals for Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2015.
The 26-year-old ended 2020 on a eight-game winning streak, scoring five goals in those matches. He kicks off 2021 on Saturday with a home game against Napredak.
More often playing out on the right-wing nowadays, instead of as a centre-forward, Asano seems to have finally found somewhere he can really have an impact. He’s had to drop out of Europe’s top-five leagues to get there, but at least he’s enjoying his football at last.