Signed from Kawasaki Frontale in the summer and immediately loaned to Royale Union Saint Gilloise, Kaoru Mitoma is an investment for Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Premier League club spent £2.7m on the Japan U23 international, having reportedly tracked him for quite some time, and the deal with the Belgian side was solely to help him adapt to life in Europe and its football.
Despite having five appearances to his name in the Jupiler Pro League this season, Mitoma has yet to start a game for Union SG, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had an impact.
Just this weekend, the forward came off the bench at half time against RFC Seraing when they were 2-0 down and scored a 35 minute hat-trick to ensure his side walked away with all three points in a 4-2 victory.
This has earned him praise in the Belgian media and his teammates, with Dante Vanzeir, who scored the other Union SG goal in that game, saying, relayed by DH: “I hope [he becomes a jewel of the JPL]. He’s a player who has enormous qualities. In training, we immediately saw he offered nice things. His speed and his individual actions will be important for us going forward.
“He already showed a lot against Circle Brugge and he did it again against Seraing. To play 45 minutes and score three goals, that’s magnificent. I wish for him to continue on that road. I don’t doubt for one second that he’ll be able to maintain that level”.
Elsewhere, the club’s vice-captain described the Brighton loanee as ‘phenomenal’ and it won’t be long until he gets to start a game.
That’s, at least, what Felice Mazzù, his manager, hinted at, saying ‘he’s shown he can be a starter for a few weeks, that’s clear’.
Brighton will be hoping that will be the case sooner rather than later, as they will want Mitoma to get as much game time as possible before his return to Amex Stadium, where Graham Potter will likely assess him closer ahead of the 2022-23 season.