The 27-year-old Magpies attacker has played only 102 minutes of Premier League action across five appearances this season, as per WhoScored, and has played no part in the club’s last five league games.
In fact, in four of the Magpies’ last five league matches, Muto has failed to make the matchday squad and it doesn’t seem likely that his playing time will improve unless his fellow strikers suffer injury blows.
The Magpies haven’t exactly been prolific up front, Ciaran Clark and Jonjo Shelvey are the club’s joint-top scorers with two, so if Muto was going to be given a proper go in the team, surely he would have by now.
Bruce clearly doesn’t think Muto could solve the Magpies’ problems in front of goal and you can understand why that is, as the forward has only managed two goals in 24 appearances since joining the club in the summer of 2018.
Also, you feel Muto’s chances are particularly slim when you consider the Shields Gazette recently described Muto as being “out of favour.”
So if that doesn’t scream he needs an exit nothing will.
On a promising note from his perspective, Athletic journalist Chris Waugh suggested that the forward may be sold in January to make room in Steve Bruce’s Premier League squad for a new recruit, though did stress he hadn’t heard anything directly about the attacker being sold.
So Muto was probably thinking he could get his career back on track soon enough with a move away from the Magpies in January.
Yet based on a report by the Sunderland Echo, it does seem likely the forward is set to be trapped at St James’ Park beyond January as the news outlet claim the Magpies are unlikely to eye another forward addition in the winter window.
Considering the Magpies’ current back-up forward options to Joelinton are Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle, two players whose recent injury records are chequered, a new striker not arriving surely means Muto isn’t going anywhere as Bruce isn’t going to want to risk being caught short if injuries strike.
After all, the Magpies boss would kick himself if he sold Muto then Gayle and Carroll predictably suffer setbacks, as well as Joelinton, suffering an injury as it would mean he wouldn’t exactly have a recognised striker to choose from and that could prove costly.
So with that in mind, while Muto desperately needs an exit and things are unlikely to change in that regards, it’s hard not to see Muto ending up trapped at the club until next summer when the Magpies potentially go and get a replacement.