When Celtic turned their attention to a Japanese market that new manager Ange Postecoglou knew well, questions were raised.
Not at Postecoglou’s judgement but at whether the man of concern would be able to make the adjustments required to settle in Scottish football with the Hoops.
However, any worries have been quashed immediately by their marquee signing Kyogo Furuhashi.
The Japan international arrived in mid-July but it took a while for him to be integrated with his teammates. A period of quarantine followed and he wasn’t seen in the famous green and white hoops until the opening day defeat to Hearts.
Fortunately, Furuhashi’s match fitness was already up to scratch. He joined the Bhoys as the J-League’s top scorer, a competition that was ongoing throughout the summer months of 2021.
It’s unsurprising, therefore, that he’s settled the quickest of Celtic’s new signings. In fact, he has been a breath of fresh air to everyone associated with the Glaswegian club.
The 26-year-old has been in impeccable form since penning terms, scoring versus Jablonec in Europa League qualifying before bagging a scintillating hat-trick against Dundee last weekend.
Postecoglou had his pick at the J-League market and he could have welcomed Kaoru Mitoma and Ao Tanaka through the door as well. Instead, they signed for other teams on the European continent.
That being said, there remains a Japanese talent that Postecoglou could still bring to Celtic.
That happens to be Manchester City’s Ko Itakura. A centre-back or defensive midfielder, he was signed by the City group in 2019 after catching the eye in his native Japan.
He hasn’t made a single appearance for City but he has starred in the Netherlands during a two-year loan with Groningen.
Itakura is now back on British shores and could make a move north of the border after reports linked him with a switch to Celtic. Journalist Ekrem Konur then revealed this week that talks were underway with the Citizens and the player regarding a move.
Although he isn’t a striker, the boss could repeat the success they’ve had with his fellow countryman, Furuhashi.
The 24-year-old played for Japan at the Olympics and after the games came to an end last weekend, he now has to decide on his future.
Judging by the form he showed in the Eredivisie, he’d be a brilliant acquisition, one who’d need even less time to settle in considering he’s already played to a high standard in Europe.
Speaking about the 6 foot 1 defender’s game last term, former Dutch footballer Haans Kray said: “One of the very best central defenders in the Eredivisie. He can play football well, he can head well and he is incredibly fast. He’s such a good player but Manchester City don’t see anything in him.”
Celtic have already signed one central defender in Carl Starfelt but considering the defensive mistakes of Nir Bitton early in the campaign, they could do with another signing in that area of the pitch.
The Bhoys are already enjoying the red hot form of Furuhashi; now they must welcome his countryman to the club too.