Yuki Kobayashi explains reasons behind Celtic move and opens up on what Ange Postecoglou expects of him

The former Vissel Kobe defender arrived in Glasgow on Friday and expressed his delight signing for one of the ‘biggest clubs in Europe’.

Yuki Kobayashi reckons the success of his former Vissel Kobe team-mate Kyogo Furuashi at Celtic has inspired a lot of Japanese players to move to Europe as he expressed his delight at joining one of the biggest clubs in the world.

The 22-year-old defender, who agreed a five-year deal with the Scottish champions last month, became Ange Postecoglou’s first signing ahead of the January transfer window and landed in Scotland on Friday after the deal was concluded.

He faces stiff competition to earn an immediate place in the Hoops starting XI, given the status of fellow centre-backs Cameron Carter-Vickers, Carl Starfelt, Moritz Jenz and Stephen Welsh.

New Celtic signing Yuki Kobayashi is unveiled (Image: SNS Group)New Celtic signing Yuki Kobayashi is unveiled (Image: SNS Group)
New Celtic signing Yuki Kobayashi is unveiled (Image: SNS Group)

Kobayashi, who will start training with his new team this week ahead of being officially registered on January 1, admitted he was able to consult Furuhashi about the move and is confident he can settle into his new surroundings quickly.

Speaking to Celtic TV, he said: “I am very happy to be here and I can’t wait to play football with my new team mates. I don’t think any player would refuse an offer from Celtic and I thought it was one of the leading clubs in Europe, so I’m very happy to have the chance to play for this team. It’s a massive opportunity for me so I want to help the team and prove myself here.

“Kyogo’s success was very inspiring for me when I was in Japan and I’m sure that he and the other Japanese players have shown me what they are capable of which has helped me in coming to this team. I really want to play as good as him and help this team.

“I’ve had contact with Kyogo, yes. We’ve had a lot of really positive things to talk about. He told me about the team, the stadium and the atmosphere, so I was really looking forward to coming. I have a confidence in myself and will prepare myself to my best standard to train hard.

“Obviously, I play a different position to Kyogo but I think I can adapt quickly as he did. I think the Japanese players in this team are really helping the team a lot and I heard a lot of positive news about their success in Scotland so I knew that they were doing very well.”

Kobayashi confessed it didn’t take much for manager Ange Postecoglou to sell him on a transfer to Celtic, insiting he was already an admirer of the Yokohama F. Marinos boss after coming up against his former side.

He stated: “When I played against the Yokohama Marinos team he led in the J-League, I was very surprised as an opponent or rather I had a strong impression of their very tactical football so I had the desire to play football under him since I played against them about two years ago and now I’m looking forward to seeing that happen.

“I have to play as the manager requires and to learn the playing style and it’s important to have a good adaptation. He is expecting me to be a strong defender at centre-back - my strengths are aggressiveness and read the game and skill to intercept the ball. Attacking wise, my strong point is the vertical pass and long ball and I also want them to see how can build up the attack. In terms of the opportunity ahead, I will just have to show my best performances to get those opportunities.

“We have really good players in every position and I would like to learn a lot of things to improve myself. I had a really good impression of the Japanese players here and this is a great opportunity to show the qualities of Japanese players in Europe. I would like to become one of them and have good results with Celtic.

“The Scottish league is different from the J-League, so first of all I need to adapt to the style of the league. In terms of the playing style, a lot of physicalities will be required compared to the J-League, but I’ve been preparing and I’m ready and I want to show what I can do. I think playing well and having good results can bring me opportunities to play in the national team and this is what I have to do now, to do my best in the team.”

Japanese football in general is thriving at present, with the Blue Samurai defeating both Spain and Germay en route to finishing top of their World Cup group. They face Croatia in the last-16 today and Kobayashi believes starring for Celtic can enhance his prospects of earning his first senior call-up in the future.

He added: “Our national team is doing very well at the moment and I would like to play with them in the future. This is why I came to Celtic, to try and play well here and then hopefully be called up to the national team in the times ahead. I think that by playing well here, I can have a lot of opportunities to be part of the squad. This is very important to me.”

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