Takehiro Tomiyasu has a serious knee injury and will miss the rest of the season, Arsenal confirmed earlier today. The right back underwent successful surgery on Tuesday, but there are no specific details on what knee injury Tomiyasu suffered. The club statement said “everyone at the club will now be working hard with Tomi, so he can join pre-season training ahead of next season,” which suggests that while serious enough to require surgery, his injury might not be among the most serious knee injuries that players can suffer.
It’s been a mostly lost season for the Japanese right back, which is disappointing because he had such a stellar first campaign with the club after signing from Bologna on Deadline Day in August 2021. Tomiyasu has struggled with knocks and minor injuries this year that have prevented him from getting into rhythm and form. His playing time has also not been helped by the emergence of Ben White as a top tier right back.
It’s wild to think that Tomiyasu might not be at Arsenal long-term after such an impressive season in ‘21-’22. It seemed as if the Gunners had found a nailed-on starter that would hold onto the right back spot for a few years. Now, it would not be surprising to see him sold next January or in the summer of 2024. His inability to stay fit and available is a problem, but his limitations on the ball might be a bigger issue. For Arsenal to be at their best, they need their fullbacks to be dangerous on the ball. Tomiyasu isn’t terrible with the ball at his feet but proficient might not be enough for Mikel Arteta’s system.
But I also might be getting ahead of myself. Tomiyasu is a really strong defensive fullback and a shutdown option for when the Gunners need it. Just as there is value in having backups who can do the same things as the first-choice player, there is also value in having ones with different strengths for when your side needs to change things up. At 24, Tomiyasu fits the age profile of the squad and could develop more attacking threat to make himself into a 1B option to White’s 1A as opposed to the clear second-choice he is right now.
In Tomiyasu’s absence, it seems as if the backup right back is Thomas Partey. The defensive midfielder played some fullback at Atletico Madrid and moved to the backline against Crystal Palace when Ben White came off, with Jorginho playing at the base of the midfield.