The inevitable has finally happened. After a season and a half of consistent brilliant performances and helping Kawasaki Frontale to the 2020 J.League 1 and the 2020 Emperor’s Cup titles, Kaoru Mitoma has finally left the club for the greener pastures of Europe. And it was Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion out of all teams who managed to bag themselves Mitoma’s signature, with the Seagulls immediately loaning the Japan international out to Union Saint-Gilloise in the Belgian top-flight.
Since making his professional debut in 2020, Mitoma displayed impressive performances after impressive performances week in and week out for Kawasaki, scoring 13 times in 30 games as the men from Kanagawa Prefecture won their third J1 title in four seasons.
And Mitoma’s performances were not mere flashes in a pan as well as the 24-year old retained his killer instinct into the 2021 J1 season, scoring 8 in 23 games as Kawasaki went through the entirety of the first half of this season unbeaten.
Inevitably Mitoma’s impressive showing attracted attention from Europe and Brighton were the ones who managed to lure the young winger away from the Todoroki Athletics Stadium. The Seagulls tied Mitoma down on a 4-year contract and he will spend his first year on loan at Union SG in Belgium to allow him to be eligible for a UK work permit in time for the 2022/23 season.
Brighton chairman Tony Bloom is also the majority stakeholder at Union SG, essentially turning the Belgian club into the Seagulls’ sister team.
A delighted Mitoma spoke on the Brighton official website that his move to the English club – and subsequent loan to Belgium – is a “dream come true” for the young winger.
“This year I want to perform well in the Belgium league, to play throughout the season and make sure I get acclimatized to European football,” Mitoma said as quoted from the Brighton website, “The important thing is I want to improve my physicality and show that I can fight through the whole season. I want to contribute to the Brighton team after my time in Belgium.”
Having watched Shinji Kagawa turning out for Manchester United in his youth, Mitoma cited him as an inspiration behind his move to England. Brighton’s longstanding interest towards Mitoma was also the motivation behind his decision to sign for the Seagulls, acknowledging the lengths that Brighton had to do in trying to get his signature.
“I am really thankful that Brighton made the offer for me, they were the first club to show an interest, I am really grateful for that,” Mitoma said, as quoted from the Brighton website once again, “It’s my dream to play overseas, and I’m looking forward to playing this season in Belgium, but ultimately the aim is to play in the best league in the world, the Premier League.”