Glasgow — After 22 games in a 38-match league campaign, Celtic FC are top of the Scottish Premiership with a 9-point lead over closest challengers Rangers. Add to that a healthy goal difference of 52 and you can see just how dominant Celtic were at home.
A staggering 20 of those games have been won, with only one loss (against St. Mirren on 18 September) and one draw (away to Rangers on 2 January). It’s a tough pace for rivals to catch up.
An overview of this season’s Japanese influence
In this, three of the four Japanese stars who were at Celtic last season are playing at a high level. is a solid fixture.
Like last season, Yosuke Ideguchi was unwell. The midfielder suffered a pre-season leg injury in July and has not played a minute for Celtic this season.
Ideguchi has been unlucky, but his compatriots have furthered their reputation in Scotland’s top league. It may not be long before all three are subject to the rampant transfer speculation that exists in football all year long. Some clubs in Europe’s wealthier leagues are sure to have their eye on Celtic’s Japanese trio.
Let’s dig into the premiership performance levels of the standard bearers, Furuhashi and Maeda so far in the 2022-23 season.
Hatate Leo – Become indispensable
With 20 Premiership appearances, the 25-year-old midfielder is fast becoming the type of player every top team wants in their engine room.
With 3 goals and 6 assists, Hatate also contributes to a lesser-known aspect of football by consistently winning the ball and maintaining possession for his team. In the fast-paced landscape of the game in Scotland, it’s not an extraordinary feat for a player arriving from abroad.
Besides excelling in midfield, the standard bearer has proven to be an all-rounder. He played as a right-back when the Celtic full-back was injured in his 24 December match against St. Johnston.
“Leo has set the bar quite high for other full-backs,” Postecoglou said. celtic tv“That’s a credit to Leo. He really had to be disciplined.”
“I had to be creative with it, but with the way we played, I thought he was disciplined enough and gave us something to move forward,” the manager said.
Hatate, who normally plays in the midfield of club captains Callum McGregor and Matt O’Reilly, took on a special responsibility when McGregor missed a few games due to injury. With the exception of McGregor, it was the flag bearers who were asked to play more centrally, becoming more involved in controlling the tempo of Celtic’s play.
A flag-bearer who has shown particular faith in him and has shown consistent performance levels across all facets of his midfield play, is a player Celtic could potentially receive a hefty transfer fee for just one day. For now, he continues to impress. He could eventually win the Player of the Year award within Celtic, with Scottish his premiership at the end of the season.
Kyogo Furuhashi – Maintains excellent scoring ability
17 goals in 20 games is a great return for any forward in any league. Furuhashi is currently leading the race to be Scotland’s top scorer this season. Lawrence Shankland (16) of Hearts, Antonio Colak (11) of Rangers and Bojan Miovski (11) of Aberdeen are his closest pursuers.
Furuhashi has maintained his form this season and continues to demonstrate his finishing ability. If he stays healthy, he could score nearly 30 goals this season.
With the Celtic squad containing some impressive options, there was some early debate within the Scottish media about whether Furuhashi would rotate in and out of Postecoglou’s starting line-up.
That didn’t happen – it’s clear from the team selection that Furuhashi is his manager’s first-choice central striker.
Ahead of the January 2 game against Rangers, Postecoglou was asked to comment on several media reports that Furuhashi was experiencing a “lean spell” in front of goal.
“We’ll have to see when his lean spell was and look into it,” Postecoglou said in response to a question. celtic road“I must have missed 20 minutes. All I know is that from the moment he arrived he was scoring goals and annoying the opposing team.”
Statistics certainly support that assessment.
Furuhashi’s goals-to-game ratio shows him scoring a goal every 66 minutes on the field in the Scottish Premiership. Of his goals, at home he scored 8 and away he scored 9. Consistently dangerous in any stadium.
Furuhashi is the best finisher in the Scottish Premiership. He hit his target with 61% of his goal effort.
Daizen Maeda – Strong work rate and mental strength
Sometimes starting, sometimes off the bench, Maeda has further cemented his reputation as one of the hardest-working forwards in Scottish football history.
As the only Japanese player from Celtic to join the Samurai Blue squad for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar, Maeda is in a healthy race at club level to secure a starting position.
Maeda has started 13 of his 20 appearances in the Premiership this season, among other wide forwards Sead Haksavanovic, Riel Abada and Jota. The other seven have seen him brought in as a replacement for Impact.
With 5 goals and 5 assists, the former Yokohama F Marinos standout is a very important player for Postecoglou. In general, Maeda gets playing time when Celtic face the toughest opponents in the country.
The Celtic manager has nothing but praise for his hard-working forward. “I obviously coached Ozen in Japan, so I know what I’ve brought,” Postecoglou said. Glasgow Evening Times in December. “He’s a selfless team player.”
The Celtic manager said: “He’s just doing things that don’t get a lot of recognition. The amount of work he puts in, the running, sometimes it pays very little. He doesn’t complain. He’s a team. I’m a runner going for it.”
Not only the physical side but also the mental strength is highly praised by the manager. “Given the chance, if he misses one, don’t let that deter him,” Postecoglou continued. Glasgow Evening Times interview.
“I saw that when I first coached him in Japan. I love it more than anything about him. It’s a really strong mentality to continuously do what’s right for the team regardless of what happened before.”
looking to the future
Celtic still have some work to do if they want to clinch the league title. The Rangers look a much more determined team after a recent management change. Celtic rivals don’t give up the chase.
Celtic’s Japanese players will have to keep working until they can no longer top the league table.
The fact that only Maeda was selected to represent Japan at the World Cup may reflect the league they are playing in rather than the players’ overall abilities. Although it plays for a prestigious club, the overall standards of football in Scotland’s top leagues are not as challenging as elsewhere in Europe.
To improve further, Hatate, Furuhashi and Maeda will probably need to leave Celtic at some point.
New arrivals and possible new trends
When the January transfer window opened earlier this month, Celtic confirmed two new arrivals from Japan: centre-back Yuki Kobayashi from Vissel Kobe and midfielder Tomoki Iwata from Yokohama F. Marinos. joined on loan. Iwata’s transfer is confirmed in the summer.
As of this writing, Kobayashi has made one Premiership appearance and made a comfortable debut in a 4-0 victory over St Mirren on 18 January.
Perhaps Celtic expect some of their established players to move to new clubs this summer, and are actively rebuilding with next-generation talent from Japan.
Celtic’s premiership rivals Hearts have also entered the Japanese market, signing 21-year-old forward Yutaro Oda on a three-year deal.
After Postecoglou opened its pipeline last year, it looks like more Scottish premiership clubs could look to Japan for player recruitment.
Follow football coverage throughout the year sports lookJapan Forward’s sports site.
Author: Colin Morrison
Morrison is a freelance sportswriter. Writing since 2016, his byline is on the boxing website NYFights.com multisport platform Spitballingpod.comHis main areas of interest are boxing, football, golf and rugby union.find his story upon sports lookMorrison is from Scotland and can be found on Twitter @Molly 1981.