Mikel Arteta has praised Takehiro Tomiyasu as one of the best defenders he’s seen and says the 24-year-old’s versatility makes him unlike anyone else in the Arsenal squad.
Signed from Italian side Bologna on Transfer Deadline Day in 2021, Tomi became an instant hit with the supporters at Emirates Stadium after an impressive debut in a 1-0 win over Norwich City.
Playing at right-back, he became an integral part of Arteta’s defence in his first season but then suffered a series of injuries that hampered his progress.
Those fitness problems carried over into last season and hampered his preparations for the World Cup before a serious knee injury, suffered in March against Sporting Lisbon, killed his campaign and forced him to go under the knife.
Having benefitted from a full pre-season, it looks as though Tomiyasu is finally back to his best and that was underlined on Wednesday when he impressed at centre-back during the Carabao Cup victory at Brentford.
Ahead of Saturday’s game at Bournemouth, a match Tomiyasu could start with William Saliba nursing a knock, Arteta was full of warm words for the defender.
“I always said that I’m really confident that the moment Tomi has consistency, he’s going to be a tremendous asset for us. He already is.
“He can play in any position in the backline, any formation in the backline, we don’t have another player like him.
“At defending, he’s probably one of the best that I’ve seen in many situations. His concepts, his principles, the way he applies that, the way he goes into duels…now he needs a run of games so that physically he’s at his best.
“If physically, Tomi is at his best, we’re going to have a player that is so important for us.
“Especially the way he reads danger,” said Arteta when asked to detail what qualities he particularly likes about the Japan international.
“The way he resolves urgent situations with a lot of composure in the right way. His skill to defend, the way his body is built, it makes him a really complete player to do that. It’s really difficult to run past him. He’s always alert.
“It’s the way he’s been raised and educated. He’s always super focused and for a defender that’s a big, big attribute.”
It was once said by a buffoon on Sky Sports that Tomiyasu is, “not really a right-back, nor is he a central defender”. He was ridiculed but perhaps we were too quick to judge those comments. He’s not really a left-back either. He’s everything!
Keep it up, Tomi.