10 years after leaving Japan to join Arsenal as a teenager, Ryo Miyaichi has returned to his home country to sign for Yokohama F. Marinos.

Ryo Miyaichi St Pauli 17 08 20, Hamburg, Media Day, FC St Pauli, football, GER, Season 2020 2021, 2 Bundesliga, team photo appointment, portrait appointment Witters Pool via Thorsten Baering Poolfoto
Ryo Miyaichi St Pauli 17 08 20, Hamburg, Media Day, FC St Pauli, football, GER, Season 2020 2021, 2 Bundesliga, team photo appointment, portrait appointment Witters Pool via Thorsten Baering Poolfoto

Ryo Miyaichi is another tale of ‘what might have been’ had injuries not seriously impacted his career.

Arsenal signed Ryo Miyaichi from Chukyo High School on deadline day in the January window, 2011. Arsene Wenger said at the time: “We’re delighted that Ryo Miyaichi has joined us. He trialled with us in the summer and has raw ability which has attracted many clubs around the world”

Miyaichi made just seven appearances for the Arsenal first team, spending most of his time as a Gunner on loan or on the treatment table. He suffered as many injuries as games played while an Arsenal player, seven problems that impacted his ankle, ribs, hamstring, and thigh.

Loaned immediately to Feyenoord, where he became a crowd favourite, Miyaichi also spent time with Bolton, Wigan and FC Twente before he finally left Arsenal for FC St. Pauli on a free transfer in 2015.

Across his six years in Germany, the winger only managed 80 appearances, eight goals and nine assists as he wrestled with ACLs that just didn’t want to stay in one piece.

Remarkably, Miyaichi suffered three ACL ruptures in three years. While it’s not uncommon for a second to go after a first, three is extremely unlucky, to say the least. As a result, he missed 104 games for FC St. Pauli, 30% more than he was able to play.

Now, Miyaichi is back in Japan, moving on another free transfer.

He will wear the number 17 shirt and has joined the squad ahead of their game this weekend, after 14 days in quarantine.

“I’m Ryo Miyaichi, who has joined Yokohama F. Marinos,” a statement on their official site read.

“I’m happy to be able to take on the challenge in Japan at Yokohama F. Marinos, a top club that has been leading Japanese soccer since the founding century. I will do my best to stand, fight for the domestic title, and to win the ACL participation right, and I will do my best to make the team and fans and supporters feel good about taking Miyaichi. Thank you.”

He is now 28.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.