Yoshinori Muto, born on July 15, 1992, is a professional soccer player from Setagaya, Tokyo, and he is currently playing for the Bundesliga team 1. FSV Mainz 05.
He started playing soccer at the age of 4, and he joined FC Tokyo’s sub-organization when he moved up to junior high school. In 2017, he made it to 2nd place in the U-15 Takamadonomiya Cup scoring list, thus promoting to the U-18 team.
Because he also played as the U-18 team’s ace striker, his team asked if he plans on promoting to FC Tokyo’s top team, but Muto was more interested in continuing his studies in university.
In 2011, he entered Keio University’s economics department and while he was in their soccer club, he was also registered as a specially appointed player for FC Tokyo – the team where he had spent his youth years – in June 2012 to take part in the team’s training sessions.
His performance in training stood out, and in 2013, while he was still a university student, he made his first J. League debut when he appeared in the middle of the 14th match in J1 against Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
In 2014, Muto left his university soccer club. While he was still in university, he signed a professional contract with FC Tokyo, after which he made it to the starting lineup from J. League’s opening match. He demonstrated his ability to get past other players in a 1v1 situation with his stamina, speed and dribbling skills, and he produced many goals.
With 13 goals, he broke the record for most goals by a rookie, and he became the 3rd rookie in history to be chosen for the J. League’s Best Eleven.
In the following year, in 2015, he started piling up points right from the opening match. By the 15th match against Matsumoto Yamaga FC, he had already reached 10 goals. He became the 2nd player in J. League history to achieve over 10 goals for two years in a row since his debut match.
Because of Muto vast contributions to FC Tokyo, they acknowledged his request to transfer to a foreign team, and on May 30, 2015, they announced his transfer to 1. FSV Mainz 05.
After joining Mainz, he was quickly given a chance to appear in a match, and in the 3rd Bundesliga game against Hannover96, he scored his first goal, marking down a total of 2 goals and 1 assist. Since the other forward players in his team were underperforming, the team decided to use him in a solo attacking formations, and in the 11th match against FC Augsburg, he achieved his first pro level hat trick, which earned him the Man of the Match award.
This made him the 2nd Japanese player after Naohiro Takahara to pull off a hat trick in the Bundesliga. Even though he had to take time off after an injury in the 20th match against Hannover96, he appeared in 20 matches and scored 7 points during his first year.
In the opening game of the 2016-2017 season, versus Borussia Dortmund, Muto joined the match in the middle of the game and scored his first point of the season. However, during the 2nd match in the UEFA Europa League against Gabala FK, he injured his right knee, which pushed him to the sides for a long time and put an end to his season.
He fully recovered by the 2017-2018 season, and he managed to produce good results since the opening match, slowly piling up goals.
Meanwhile, On September 5, 2014, Muto made his first appearance in the main Japan national team in the Kirin Challenge Cup match against Uruguay. He scored his first goal 4 days later in the match against Venezuela. Hopes are high to see him together with Yuya Osako and Shinji Okazaki as the main forward player for the 2018 Russia World Cup.