The 22-year-old centre-back has impressed in the J-League and Japanese media outlet sponichi.co.jp is reporting that the player is very close to a move to Glasgow in the January transfer window. The J-League market is one that Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou knows well, having signed Kyogo Furuhashi, Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda and Yosuke Ideguchi from teams in that league already this season. The Australian also managed there with Yokohama F Marinos before moving to Celtic.
Kobayashi has not been capped by his national team yet but has featured for Japan’s Under-20s and is regarded as one of the country’s most promising defenders. A left-sided defender who is comfortable in possession, he fits the profile of player Celtic are looking to bring in. Moreover, Postecoglou confirmed earlier this month that he was already well down the line in bringing players in for January as he works closely with new recruitment chief Mark Lawwell.
Speaking on October 19, Postecoglou said: “We are looking everywhere in terms of our recruitment. Mark Lawwell is in the building now and the reason I brought him in is that he knows what I am looking for. The brief is to scour the world for that. The Japanese and Asian market is one I am really familiar with and I still think there is value there for players, and I know how they would fit into what we do. But we signed Alexandro Bernabei from Argentina, so South America is also an area we are looking at.
“With Mark now working and knowing how we do things, we know exactly what we are looking for. There are some parameters financially that we have to work with but the key criteria is the kind of characters they are, and how they conduct themselves. Whether they are from Europe, Asia, South America or Africa, we factor that into any player we bring in.”
The media report on sponichi.co.jp reads via Google translate: “According to multiple sources, a formal offer has already arrived and an agreement has been reached between the clubs. Kobayashi himself seems to have decided to take on his first overseas challenge and plans to sign a formal contract after undergoing a medical check on site. He has been attracting attention since he was in Kobe's academy, and in May 2016, at the age of 15 years and 9 months, he was registered for two top teams. He has continued to grow steadily since then and made his top debut in April 2018 at the age of 17 years and 8 months.
“In 2019, he skipped a grade and was selected as the U-21 Japan representative of the Tokyo Olympics generation. Known for his precise left foot and build-up ability, this Celtic team are also said to appreciate Kobayashi's ability and potential.”
Celtic brought in Maeda, Hatate and Ideguchi last January from the Japanese market and they played a major part in Celtic going on to win the cinch Premiership title, with Hatate scoring twice in a 3-0 win over Rangers at the start of February.