Scottish champions Celtic are believed to be edging closer to the signing of Vissel Kobe defender Yuki Kobayashi, with Hoops boss Ange Postecoglou keen to strengthen his side once again in January.
Recent reports in Japan, as per the Daily Record, have claimed that the Old Firm outfit are expected to sign the centre-back on a free transfer in the winter window, with the 22-year-old having just a matter of months remaining on his existing deal at his current side.
Journalist Dean Jones – speaking to GIVEMESPORT – has now given his backing to the potentially impending move, suggesting that it could represent further astute business from the Parkhead giants under Postecoglou’s watch.
The transfer insider stated: “Celtic, we know are not afraid to take players like this on.
“We know Ange likes to step out the box and think differently and sign players from different leagues, he isn’t worried about how they’ll adapt. He has a very good instinct for things like this, and it could be a really smart signing.”
This imminent swoop could well see the Hoops boss utilise his J-League connections once again, with the former Yokohama head coach having already signed four players from the Japanese top-flight during his tenure in Glasgow thus far, in the form of Kyogo Furuhashi, Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda and Yosuke Ideguchi.
Like this move for Kobayashi, that latter trio were all snapped up during the January window last season, with Hatate, in particular, quickly going on to make his mark in his new surroundings, having needed little time to settle following his arrival in Scotland.
The diminutive playmaker memorably announced himself in the Scottish Premiership with a stunning brace on his Old Firm derby debut back in February, eventually finishing that 2021/22 campaign with a respectable haul of four goals and three assists in just 21 games.
That impact has continued in the current campaign with the 5 foot 8 sensation having already provided six goal involvements in his 20 appearances across all fronts, with 16 of those outings having come from the start.
The 24-year-old’s latest performance in the win over Ross County on Saturday was arguably one of his “best games in a Celtic jersey” to date, in the words of journalist John McGinley, having registered two assists in that comeback triumph.
A key cog in Postecoglou’s relentless machine, Hatate has thrived since his move to Paradise earlier this year, with the hope being that compatriot Kobayashi can replicate his success in 2023 and beyond, were a deal to finally be struck in the coming weeks.
The latter man – who has made 78 appearances at his current club to date – would offer further competition to the Bhoys’ defensive ranks, as well as providing a unique alternative to the squad as a left-footed option.
While a relative unknown outside of his homeland – much like Hatate was – the indication is that the 6 foot 1 ace could prove to be yet another diamond unearthed by Postecoglou, with journalist Sacha Pisani saying of the youngster’s talents:
“Yuki’s good in the air. Reads/anticipates game well. Comfortable on ball as left-footer & very good at blocking shots. A lot of upside.”
That glowing assessment should well pique the eye of those at Celtic Park, with the hope now that he can go on to become a leading presence at the club, as Hatate has done this past calendar year.