Celtic scouting mission: Seven players from Asia to look at - 6ft 4in Korean keeper, Iranian wonderkid, Postecoglou prototype
The path from Japanese football to the cinch Premiership is not a well-trodden one – but that hasn’t stopped Ange Postecoglou breaking new ground.
He’s already brought Kyogo Furuhashi from the J-League, with Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi set to follow – and he’s not planning on stopping his transfer raid on Asia there.
“If you look at all the big leagues around the world, you’ll see Asian players,” he said. “Not just from Japan but from Korea, from Australia, from Iran. There are some very good footballers on that side of the world. But if people don’t want to look there, I’m happy to be the only one.”
The boss isn’t the only one looking though, as, prompted by his national name-dropping, we delved into the top leagues and teams of Korea, Iran and his own country for potential players the boss could look to recruit in future.
Song Bumkeun (Jeonbuk Hyundai)
The South Korean goalkeeper stands at 6ft 4in and registered the most clean sheets in the K-League last season, helping Jeonbuk to the title. At 24-years-old, he already has the stature, and the statistics, to be be a viable back-up and rival to the 34-year-old Joe Hart.
Armin Sohrabian (Gol Gohar)
Capped once by Iran, much of current leaders in the Persian Gulf Pro League Gol Gohar’s early promise has been aided by the 26-year-old left-sided, defender who has scored twice without defeat. Potentially a profitable asset.
Mehdi Ghayedi (Shabab Al-Ahli)
Little in stature at 5ft 5in, but big on talent, the 22-year-old wonderkid already has eight Iranian caps and topped the charts for assists last season before leaving Esteghlal with the league’s young player of the year award and moving to UAE this summer. A left-sided attacker, Celtic already have Jota but with the Portuguese still just a loan deal and injured until at least January, Ghayedi could be a future option.
Aaron Mooy (Shanghai Port)
One of the Chinese Super League’s better known players, Mooy has a Scottish football background at St Mirren and is known to Postecoglou too from his time as Australia manager. The combative midfielder could add steel to the squad, but is on a large wage in China.
Du-Jae Won (Ulsan Hyundai)
This holding midfielder is establishing himself in the position and at 24, is in the right age bracket. Already capped six times by South Korea, which helps for work permit conditions, his credentials are further boosted by Asian Champions League appearances with the 2020 runners-up.
Chris Ikonomidis (Melbourne Victory)
Postecoglou might see a little bit of himself in the A-league’s young player of the year of 2019. Ikonomidis has a Greek family heritage and his senior football debut was for Postecoglou’s Socceroos – despite not playing any club football. Trained at Atalanta and Lazio and now at Melbourne Victory – again an old haunt of Postecoglou – the left-winger is highly rated Down Under with pace and dynamism.
Mehdi Abdi (Persepolis)
One of the stand-out players with Persepolis, the top team in Iran’s Persian Gulf Pro League, scored nine times from midfield en route to last season's title and featured in the Asian Champions League this term. In a league dominated by experienced professionals, Abdi looks a prospect, aged 23 – though yet to receive international honours.
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