VfB Stuttgart have completed the temporary signing of Takuma Asano from Arsenal. The Japanese striker has been handed the number 11 shirt after agreeing a loan deal that will see him remain at the Mercedes-Benz Arena for the entire 2016-17 campaign.
Asano joined Arsenal from J-League outfit Sanfrecce Hiroshima in July, following Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka as Arsene Wenger's second signing of a difficult window. The long-serving manager come under severe pressure from increasingly resentful supporters to strengthen his squad in order to keep pace with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City.
Rob Holding is the only other player recruited so far, although both Valencia defender Shkodran Mustafi and Deportivo forward Lucas Perez are expected to complete their respective moves before next Wednesday's (31 August) transfer deadline.
It never seemed likely that Asano would have a significant role to play during his first season in north London, despite an apparent shortage of viable forward options, and his hopes of even playing a bit-part role were dashed last weekend when a frustrated Wenger revealed that he had been unable to secure the necessary work permit.
"We got the work permit turned down because he didn't cost £50m, that's one of the rules that you have to know in England," he said in a post-match press conference that followed a goalless draw with defending Premier League champions Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. "Therefore, he has to go and play somewhere else. He will play I hope in France or in Germany. I believe highly in him and I will take care of him that he gets to the right place."
Asano, who scored twice for Japan's U23s at the recent Olympic Games in Rio, joins a Stuttgart side that were relegated from the Bundesliga last season for the first time in 41 years following a 3-1 final-day defeat to Wolfsburg, coupled with Papy Djilobodji's late winner for Werder Bremen.
They appointed Jos Luhukay as their new manager in May after predecessor Jurgen Kramny reverted back to his previous role as reserve team boss and currently lie seventh in the second tier after following an opening day win over St Pauli with a 1-0 loss away to Fortuna Dusseldorf. Safe passage through to the second round of the DFB-Pokal was secured courtesy of a comfortable defeat of minnows FC Homburg last weekend. Next up tonight is a trip to Sandhausen, and while Asano has not been signed in time to feature in that match, he could make his debut against Heidenheim after the international break on 9 September.
Arsenal sanctioned the season-long loan of out-of-favour forward Joel Campbell to Sporting Lisbon last week and Wenger has also suggested that Mustafi's imminent arrival will likely lead to Calum Chambers being temporarily dispatched elsewhere to continue his development.