Celtic have signed three players from the Japanese J-League
Celtic have confirmed the signings of Japanese trio Daizen Maeda, Yosuke Ideguchi and Reo Hatate on the eve of the January transfer window opening.
The J-League stars are expected to arrive in Glasgow at the beginning of next month after completing their medicals and paperwork abroad.
Maeda was quickly established as Hoops manager Ange Postecoglou’s top target as he looked to add extra firepower up front.
Premier Sports Cup final hero Kyogo Furuhashi has proved a massive hit with supporters on and off the park since his arrival from Vissel Kobe in the summer and he will now link up with his fellow countryman at Parkhead.
Postecoglou had previously stated January would be a busy month for the club as they looked to add reinforcement to help boost their Premiership title credentials and in Europe.
The Australian head coach is eager to complete his business early in the window and following the success of Kyogo, he will be delighted to pull off a triple raid on the Japanese top-flight.
After prioritising his hat-trick of latest recruits, Postecoglou will hope they can have the same impact in Scotland, insisting Maeda, Ideguchi and Hatate arrive at the PEAK of their careers.
He now turn his attention to making loan deals for Benfica winger Felipe Jota and Tottenham Hostpur defender Cameron Carter-Vickers into permanent moves.
GlasgowWorld profiles Celtic’s newest additions:
The 24-year-old versatile striker will be reunited with Ange Postecoglou, having previously played under him at Yokohama F. Marinos.
Celtic have agreed a deal in principle based on an initial loan and a compulsory purchase clause (£1.6million), meaning he will join the club on a permanent basis in the summer on a long-term deal.
The twice capped Japan international finished joint top-scorer in last season’s J-league with 23 goals and was named in the J-League Best XI.
Maeda boasts experience of playing in Europe after a previous loan spell with Portuguese outfit Maritimo, which was cut short due to Covid.
Known for his scoring prowess and electric pace, Maeda reckons he owes it to himself to perform on a bigger stage abroad.
Speaking to Sky Sports earlier this month, he said: “I felt that I still have a long way to go after playing against foreign players.
“If I don’t experience playing against foreign players, I won’t be able to close the gap, so if I have a chance, I love to go to such a stage.”
His departing statement read: “I’ll do my best to give you a good report, and I’m going to visit the BOSS!”
The 25-year-old versatile midfielder/defender joins on a four-and-a-half year deal from Gamba Osaka for a reported fee of around £850,000.
Ideguchi began his playing career at Osaka, rising up through their youth academy before winning the prestigious J-League ‘Rookie of the Year’ award in 2016.
He joined Leeds United in 2018 but struggled to break into the first-team and was sent out on loan to Cultural Leonesa in Spain and then Greuther Furth in Germany.
He returned to Osaka and has been a mainstay, making over 200 appearances during his two spells at the club.
In a statement on Osaka’s official website, he said: “I have been indebted to Gamba Osaka for about 12 years. Even in bad times, I was really supported and grew up as a person and a soccer player.
“If it hadn’t been for Gamba Osaka, I wouldn’t be myself now. I really love this club and it’s like a family. I will continue to support you as a fan and I dream of returning someday.”
Ideguchi has 15 Japan caps to his name and has scored two goals for his country.
The 24-year-old utility man can play in a number of positions and completes his switch from Kawasaki Frontale on a four-and-a-half year contract.
He helped his side win the J-League for a second successive year and like Maeda, was also named in the J-League Best XI of the 2021 season.
Selected to represent Japan at the Olympic Games in the summer, Hatate helped his country reach the semi-final stage of the tournament but they missed out on a place on the podium after losing their bronze medal match against Mexico.
Hatate believes is it time for him to develop his playing career and has urged Kawasaki Frontale fans to keep an eye out on his progress with Celtic.
He stated: “If I hadn’t chosen Frontale when I entered the pros, I think a player in his second year of college wouldn’t have had this much experience.
“I’m really glad I was able to play with this team and I am grateful to all the clubs for their warm welcome.
“I will be playing for a different team next season and I want to challenge myself and to grow as a footballer and as a person.
“I would be very grateful if you could keep an eye on me as well as Frontale, and I will be rotting for the club to win their third consecutive league title and the ACL.”