Celtic transfers: Who are the three Japanese stars linked with January Parkhead switch?
With the arrival of Ange Postecoglou in the summer, it opened up the Japanese market for Celtic.
The Parkhead boss has plenty of knowledge and experience of the J-League due to his time in charge of Yokohama F. Marinos who he led to the league title in 2019.
That has already been witnessed with the swashbuckling form of Kyogo Furuhashi during the first half of the Scottish season. Understandably, Celtic fans are excited by the prospect of more stars arriving from Japan.
According to Sky Sports, Postecoglou has three on his January wishlist.
The most accurate way to describe the 24-year-old forward is ‘speed merchant’. Towards the end of the J-League season it was revealed that he had featured in the most top ten places for the number of sprints in a game.
"I've been fast since I was a kid,” he said. “I've always been in first place so much that I don't remember taking second place. Maybe because my parents were all-around sports, I think it was inherited.”
That pace certainly helped him plunder 22 goals for Yokohama F. Marinos, especially his acceleration. But there is more to his game than speed. He is excellent at finding space and making quick movements inside the box.
Of his 22 J-League goals last campaign, 16 came between the posts and within ten yards of goal, often sneaking between defenders to finish a cut-back or square pass.
It is understood this is the deal that is closest to getting done with Celtic hopeful of recruiting the versatile 24-year-old at the start of the window so he is available for the Rangers clash on January 2.
What he will give to Ange Postecoglou’s side is varied. He is a willing runner, has plenty of energy and is an aggressive presser of the ball. While he is right-footed he is assured with the ball on either foot and comfortable in a variety of positions.
This past season for Kawasaki Frontale, he featured at left-back, in the centre of midfield, wide right and wide left and as an attacking midfielder.
Hatate ticks a lot of boxes to play within Postecoglou’s system with and without the ball, able to play a number of roles. He could easily fill in one of the midfield positions beyond Callum McGregor. Left-back has been a headache at times but could take over from Josip Juranovic who has shown up strongly in the position.
The Japanese international has had the most interesting career of the trip. He joined Leeds United on a four-and-a-half year deal in 2018 but never played. He had loan spells in Spain and Germany during that time before returning to Gamba Osaka.
Ideguchi is similar to Hatate in that he can get around the pitch very well. He is diminutive, energetic and can provide the necessary aggression to ensure he is not bullied in the blood and thunder of a Scottish game.
What he would provide is a bit more defensive nous in stopping the opposition from playing. There could be some games, perhaps in Europe, where his awareness of situations unfolding could be beneficial and provide some more legs and protection around Callum McGregor.
At the same time he will look to progress the ball forward and play directly.
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