Chelsea bid for FC Tokyo striker Muto


Palestine's Ismail Alamour (L) kicks Japan's Yoshinori Muto in the stomach as they vie for the ball during their Asian Cup Group D soccer match at the Newcastle Stadium in Newcastle January 12, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed

TOKYO (Reuters) - English Premier League leaders Chelsea have bid for FC Tokyo's Japanese international striker Yoshinori Muto, the J-League side said on Thursday.

The 22-year-old, who has scored once for his country in 11 appearances, has "not made any decision yet" on a possible move, Kyodo News reported the Japanese club as saying on Thursday.

The shrewd striker only graduated two weeks ago from Keio University after completing an economics degree and would not be eligible to move until the transfer window opens in England in June.

The new J-League season started last month and Muto has impressed, notching three goals in his first four appearances to help Tokyo sit third. He struck 13 goals in his rookie year last term and was named in the J-League's best eleven.

He represented Japan during their quarter-final exit at the Asian Cup in January and retained his place in the squad for new coach Vahid Halilhodzic's first matches last month.

Chelsea, who are in sight of their fifth English title with a seven point lead and only eight games remaining, recently announced their 'largest ever commercial deal' with Japanese tyre firm, Yokohama Rubber Company.

Japanese players have struggled to make an impact in recent years, with Muto's international team mate Shinji Kagawa rejoining Borussia Dortmund after a difficult spell with Manchester United.

Maya Yoshida has found it hard to hold on to first team role at Southampton, while Tadanari Lee, who scored a spectacular goal to win the 2011 Asian Cup, left the south coast club last year after failing to make an impact in England.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies, writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore, editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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