Yoshinori Muto is preparing to line up against Chelsea for Newcastle, with the Japanese striker revealing that he once turned down a move to Stamford Bridge.
The 26-year-old forward arrived in Premier League football over the summer, with a £9.5 million ($12m) deal taking him to St James’ Park.
Rafa Benitez snapped up his services from Mainz, with the 2017-18 campaign having delivered a personal best return of 10 goals across all competitions.
Muto is being eased into English football by the Magpies, but he could have arrived much earlier had he taken up an offer from Chelsea while still on the books of FC Tokyo.
Explaining his decision to snub a team that has stockpiled talent over recent years only to send many youngsters out on loan, Muto told The Telegraph: “I was 22 when I got the offer from Chelsea.
“At the time, I didn’t feel the manager of the club really wanted or needed me.
“I think they wanted to sign the young potential of players and then loan them out to help them progress. Instead of doing that, I wanted to stay at a club to help me progress.
“I wanted to feel like I could make my own progress step by step, therefore I didn’t take the opportunity.”
Having opted for an initial move to Germany after leaving his homeland, Muto has managed to work his way to the Premier League.
He could now face former suitors Chelsea on Sunday, with Newcastle looking to kick-start their 2018-19 campaign after taking one point from their opening two fixtures.
Muto added: “Of course, it is a strange feeling to play against Chelsea. They are obviously a fantastic club, really strong.
“If we can be united as a team, as one, then they are an opponent we can get a win. We really need the three points. If I contribute by scoring or assisting, it will be a fantastic weekend.”