Celtic boss admits covid concerns over new signings timeline

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou has admitted potential covid complications offer no guarantees over reshaping his squad as early as he would like in the January transfer window.

Celtic have reportedly struck a deal to sign Japanese forward Daizen Maeda from Yokohama F. Marinos. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Celtic have reportedly struck a deal to sign Japanese forward Daizen Maeda from Yokohama F. Marinos. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

The Australian has consistently expressed his desire to have new signings firmly bedded-in before the resumption of the season following the winter break as Celtic return to action against Hibs in Glasgow’s east end on January 17. That could prove a tight timeline as the club set their sights on the Japanese market.

Reports from the far east have claimed Celtic have agreed a deal for forward Daizen Maeda, on a loan-to-buy arrangement with a permanent fee of £1.7m quoted. The player, who worked under Postecoglou at Yokahama F Marinos, could be subject to quarantine protocols on arriving in Scotland as the country seeks to limit the spread of the Omicron variant during the latest wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Such a situation might also impact on how quickly on-going moves to bring in J-League midfield pair Yosuke Ideguchi and Reo Hatate could see the duo pitching up at the club’s Lennoxtown training centre. The integration period for any new overseas arrivals appears clouded then, and the Celtic manager recognises that covid could complicate business completed in this window.

“I’m always optimistic but the world flies in the face of it sometimes. We’ve just got to do what we do,” the Celtic manager said. “That’s why I’m reticent to say, ‘yes definitely in this time frame [new players will be in]’, because things change on a daily basis at the moment with the way the world is. We have been working for quite a while, Michael [Nicholson, Celtic chief executive] and myself and the key people in the club, to try and do the business as early as possible so I’m still hoping that will happen.”

Maeda, twice capped by Japan, is off the back of a 22-goal season for the team in the J-League.

The player will add more versatility to Postecoglou’s attack, capable of playing wide or through the middle.

Known for his lightning pace, Maeda featured heavily in the top 10 for sprints per game in the J-League this past season. Impressively he was only flagged offside ten times across the campaign, while recording the most touches in the opposition box and second most shots.

Speaking about the prospect of a move, Maeda said: “I felt that I still have a long way to go after playing against foreign players. If I don’t experience playing in foreign league I won’t be able to close the gap, so if I have a chance, I love to go to such a stage.”

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