Back in 2019 when Takehiro Tomiyasu first came to Bologna from Belgian side Sint-Truidense, he was met with hope and excitement. The Japanese defender had that summer been linked with moves to bigger clubs, but ended up in Bologna.
Sinisa Mihajlovic’s willingness to offer young players a chance, proved decisive. Now, two years later, Tomiyasu leaves as a more polished defender than what he was in 2019, but still with room for improvement and some rough edges that needs working on. His style of play should fit the intensity of the Premier League.
Tomiyasu the right back
When he first arrived at Bologna, he was utilized as a right back in a 4-3-3/4-2-3-1.
With freedom to roam forward, Tomiyasu proved to be a decent outlet out wide, but also showed a tendency to cut inside the field rather than staying out wide. At times it worked well though, as his wonder-goal against Milan proved.
This strengthened the team in the center of the park, but left open space on the right hand side as Riccardo Orsolini cut inside from the right as well. His physical presence, standing at 1,88 cm, proved important in defence, as he often won headers, but he is also adept at winning the ball with a well-timed tackle.
Tomiyasu the central defender
Before the start of last season, Sinisa Mihajlovic went on record saying that he was planning on moving the Japanese defender into the heart of his defence. He was part of a struggling defence at Bologna, but this wasn’t all on him or any indivudal player though, as Mihajlovic struggled to create a coherent structure in defence, and the midfield failing to provide any real cover.
Tomiyasu has at times been too rash in his decision-making, and too “attacking” to be a defender in a 4-man defence. Danilo was a leader and a steady hand alongside him, proving to be the best option to partner Tomiyasu. Who that partner & leader will be at Arsenal, remains to be seen. His best performances have all come from full-back.
During his career, Tomiyasu has played most games as a centre-back. That changed when he came to Italy, where he has played 41 games as a right back and 20 games in central defence. With a move to Arsenal imminent, it remains to be seen where he will fit in. As Mikel Arteta seems to prefer a 4-2-3-1/4-3-3, no adaption is needed for the versatile defender. Mihajlovic does prefer an attacking side, and has let his players express themselves. With Arsenal having been on the look-out for a new right-back, it would be surprising to see him playing in central of defence anytime soon.
Given his physical presence, Tomiyasu can slot into central defence, but would be more fitting to a role on the right hand side of a 3-man defence. At only 22 years of age, he already has 23 games for Japan and therefore also brings international experience to the table.
Having been part of a youthful Bologna side, he will fit into the current «project youth» at Arsenal, being the latest signing after Ben White, Nuno Tavares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Martin Ødegaard and Aaron Ramsdale. Arsenal fans should not get their hopes up though, as Tomiyasu won’t fix their defensive problems on his own, or emulate the performances of a player like Trent-Alexander Arnold at Liverpool.
The Japanese defender will be sorely missed at Bologna for his physical presence and willingness to go forward. Still, Bologna will collect a considerable amount of money (rumored to be 20 million euros + bonuses). Having bought him for 7 million euros two years ago, that money will allow Bologna to continue to strengthen the team in the years to come, both on and off the field. Tomiyasu is just the latest of several big players leaving for other clubs, as Amadou Diawara and Simone Verdi have done in previous years, and he won’t be the last.
PHOTO: Bologna FC