Japan striker Yoshinori Muto claimed a visit from Mainz sporting director Christian Heidel convinced him to join the Bundesliga club.
The 22-year-old agreed to join Mainz from FC Tokyo in May, signing a four-year contract as he looks to make the leap into European football.
Muto was officially unveiled as a Mainz player on Thursday, making his first appearance in front of the media, and the 11-time international revealed a personal visit in Japan went a long way to persuading him to move to Germany.
“Making that much effort to come to Japan really impressed me,” Muto said about Heidel’s visit, according to Bundesliga.com.
“Now I’m intending to show what I can do here in Germany. I want to score and create goals.”
Muto, who scored 23 goals in 51 J.League matches during his time at Tokyo, will be not be able to escape comparisons to former Mainz striker and compatriot Shinji Okazaki, who has left the Rhineland-Palatinate-based club for Leicester City in England this close-season.
While Okazaki, who scored 27 goals in 65 Bundesliga fixtures, is considered more of a centre-forward in Germany, Muto has a reputation for versatility in his homeland and he expects to play on the wing for Mainz.
“I’ve played the last two seasons in Japan as a centre-forward,” he said.
“But although I haven’t spoken to [club coach] Martin Schmidt about the details yet, I think I’ll be able to play wider here.”
Either way, Muto knows he will have to improve to earn success in Germany.
“During my first training session, I had the impression that the defenders’ legs were longer than in Japan,” he said.
“It was like they were coming from everywhere.”