Ange Postecoglou is expected to bolster his squad in the upcoming January transfer window, with the Celtic manager heavily linked to delve back into the Japanese market.
Following the successful signing of attacker Kyogo Furuhashi, who has bagged 13 goals since joining from Vissel Kobe, the Hoops boss is likely to return to the J-League in an attempt to prise out another hidden gem or two.
The Parkhead outfit have been noted with a strong interest in prolific striker Daizen Maeda and versatile player Reo Hatate.
Postecoglou has remained tight-lipped regarding potential targets but confirmed assessments are ongoing ahead of the window opening in just under seven weeks.
Speaking earlier this week, he said: “There will be plenty of names before January. We are working towards then and we know what we need.
“We want to make sure we are well organised long before then, so we are going to identify targets and we will be talking to quite a few.
“But we are not negotiating or got close to signing anyone at the moment.
“There will be plenty of people putting their name forward because I think this is an attractive destination at the moment. We are just focused on being organised in January.”
GlasgowWorld profiles the two J-League stars and what they could bring to the current Celtic squad.
Who is Daizen Maeda?
A versatile striker, the 24-year-old has burst onto the J-League scene over the past 12 months.
Born in Osaka, Maeda kickstarted his senior career at Japan second-tier side Matsumoto Yamaga in 2016 before subsequent loan spells with Mito HollyHock and Portuguese outfit Maritimo, his first taste of European football.
He earned recognition at youth level for Japan, featuring regularly for the Under-23 side. Maeda broke into the senior national team in June 2019 under head coach Hajime Moriyasu, with his two caps coming against Chile and Ecuador in the Copa America.
He has played a starring role for Postecoglou’s former club Yokohama F. Marinos, scoring 18 goals and provided four assists in 30 appearances in the Japanese top-flight this season.
Maeda was selected to represent Japan in the Olympics football tournament this summer where they reached the semi-finals before losing to Spain. They missed out on a Bronze medal after a 3-1 defeat to Mexico.
What can he bring to Celtic?
Deployed just off the main striker for Marinos, Maeda can also operate from a wider position or as an out-and-out No.9.
He possesses and explosive turn of pace and isn’t afraid to run at opposition defenders. Standing at 5ft 8, he is similar in stature to Kyogo Furuhashi and is comfortable with the ball at both feet.
His awareness to find space and receive the ball in dangerous areas of the pitch could easily see him trouble club’s in the Scottish Premiership, while his recent goals tally suggests he is also an accomplished finisher.
Who is Reo Hatate?
A versatile player, the 23-year-old has taken the unconventional route throughout his early playing career, taking a massive step up from university football to the J-League.
A product of youth team FC Yokkaichi, Hatate enrolled at Juntendo University to continue his studies after leaving school. He was called up the the Japanese University team in 2017 for the Summer Universiade tournament.
Hatate was a standout performer as he netted three times on route to helping his team-mates clinch the trophy. His performances caught the eye of Kawaski Fontale, whom he signed for upon graduating.
He made his J-League debut as a substitute against Hiroyuki Abe in 2019 towards the end of the campaign before establishing himself as a first-team regular the following season.
Has since played a part in clinching two domestic titles and the Japanese Super Cup.
Still awaiting his senior national team call-up, Hatate suffered heartbreak in the 2019 Toulon Tournament, missing his country’s final spot-kick as they lost to Brazil in the final.
What can he bring to Celtic?
Capable of covering a variety of positions, Hatate is primarily left-sided with the majority of his football coming at left-back. It has been a position that has provided Postecoglou with a constant headache so far this season and the youngster could be a long-term solution to plug the problem area.
Kawasaki boss Toru Oniki has often used the player in defence or occasionally in a deep-lying midfield role. Despite only standing at 5ft 7, Hatate is renowned for his ability to fly into an aerial challenge and also as a dangerous delivery in his armoury.
He likes to burst forward at every opportunity and can also contribute the odd goal or two.