Former Celtic striker Chris Sutton believes Ange Postecoglou’s ability to identify top talent in untapped global markets continues to put the Scottish champions ahead of the curve.
The Australian’s recruitment policy continues to earn widespread praise among supporters and pundits alike, with the 57-year-old calling on his extensive knowledge of the J-League and displaying a clear willingness to unearth hidden gems from markets around the world, with players such as Alexandro Bernabei and Sead Haksabanovic recently joining the Parkhead club.
Vissel Kobe defender Yuki Kobayashi has already been announced as the Hoops first signing ahead of the January transfer window and Sutton reckons the Celtic boss deserves huge credit for scouring the globe and targeting relative unknown quantities before any other clubs.
Writing in his Daily Record column, Sutton said: “Yuki Kobayashi was announced as a new signing by Celtic as I sat inside the Khalifa International Stadium to watch Japan beat Germany. The timing, you have to say, was pretty uncanny.
“Ange Postecoglou’s eye for the J-League has reaped a reward already and that has been obvious to all. Football is a global game and those who are either unaware or unwilling to scratch below the surface and dig into markets which are often untapped are missing out. It’s getting harder with modern technology and extensive scouting networks to keep anything a secret and managing to source value no one has spotted is difficult.
“But having that knowledge and eye for a region or a type of player and the bravery to trust it is invaluable and Postecoglou’s nous in the Asian market has been crucial to his success in the job. It’s not a secret. As we seen during the Japan victory over the Germans, many of those lads in that side already ply their trade in the Bundesliga and across Europe. Strangely, there’s been a reluctance, in general, for British clubs to go down that Asian route. Certainly not before an individual has proved himself somewhere else first.
“Postecoglou has used that attitude to his advantage and Celtic have managed to get gems such as Reo Hatate, who was signed for relative buttons and will go for big money in the future. You have to be ahead of the game. Get ahead of the curve. That has always been the case, but it feels now more than ever. By offering the likes of Hatate and now Kobayashi the opportunity and platform to play on big stages in Europe in the Champions League, it’s going to open doors for more.
“Put it this way, how much easier must it have been for Kobayashi to choose Celtic having seen his old team-mate Kyogo Furuhashi make the same move from Vissel Kobe 16 months earlier and enjoy such success? The ones who were playing for Japan, Daizen Maeda apart of course, are in the public conscience. It’s too late. As soon as they deliver on the big stage, nine times out of 10, the value has gone. You have to be there first.
“As soon as a player or a country shows themselves at the World Cup, the prices sky rocket. This can also work in your favour. Should Croatian go deep into this tournament and Josip Juranovic has big performance, you can put another few quid onto his valuation. With Canada’s Alistair Johnston a name to emerge in the past days as being of interest, it’s clear Celtic, as all sensible clubs should do, are succession planning for such eventualities. Postecoglou says he is looking at every corner of the club and you can see that with the signing of Alexandro Bernabei from Argentina. There are other markets out there to get into.”