Glasgow Celtic have been dealt a huge blow to their chances of bringing Kaoru Mitoma to Parkhead this summer.
That’s according to a report by Tokyo Sports (via Sport Witness), who claim that Brighton & Hove Albion are in the process of finalising a deal for the Kawasaki Frontale winger ahead of a move to the American Express Community Stadium this summer.
A source close to the player told Tokyo Sports: “I heard that it was decided to go to the Premier League.”
The report then goes on to mention Celtic’s interest in the 24-year-old, with new manager Ange Postecoglou believed to be a fan of Mitoma’s following his own time in Japan while in charge of Yokohama F. Marinos.
However, with Brighton all but confirming the transfer of the Japan U23 this summer, the Celtic boss will now have to turn his attention elsewhere in the summer transfer market.
Considering just how impressive Mitoma has been for Kawasaki Frontale in recent seasons, the fact that Celtic look to have missed out on the signing of the winger is sure to have left Postecoglou gutted.
Indeed, in the 2020 J1 League, the 24-year-old scored a whopping 13 goals, registered 12 assists and created 13 big chances over his 30 appearances, as well as taking an average of 1.9 shots and making 1.5 key passes per game.
These returns saw the £1.62m-rated man earn a rather extraordinary seasonal SofaScore match rating of 7.29, ranking him as not only the fourth-best performer for Kawasaki Frontale but the ninth-best player in the league as a whole – playing a key role in his team setting a record points tally, as well as securing the earliest title win in the league’s history.
The man Juco James dubbed a “creative” player has continued his fine form over his 20 J1 League appearances this season, scoring eight goals, providing three assists and creating five big chances for his teammates, averaging a SofaScore match rating of 7.17.
As such, it would very much appear as if the signing of Mitoma would have been a considerable coup for Celtic this summer, with the Japanese youngster seeming to have the talent to provide the Bhoys with a real shot of retaining their Scottish Premiership crown next season.
However, with a deal for the 24-year-old now appearing dead in the water, Postecoglou must find another target this summer who could help relight the fire at Parkhead next season.