Ange Postecoglou has shown his admiration for J-League stars since taking charge of the Parkhead club. So far he has roped in Kyogo Furuhashi, Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda, Yosuke Ideguchi and Yuki Kobayashi from the Japanese market and according to the Scottish Daily Mail (as quoted by The Daily Record), the Celtic boss has now identified Tomoki Iwata as one his January transfer targets.
The 25-year-old Japan international progressed through the academy ranks of Oita Trinita before breaking into their senior squad as a teenager. He played his part in their promotion from J3 to J1 League and is currently a key individual for Postecoglou’s former club Yokohama F. Marinos.
The Aussie boss secured his services for Marinos back in 2021. He deployed him both in defence and midfield, but their journey together ended in a few months when Postecolgou accepted the Celtic job. However, the Japanese ace continued to excel as a utility player and won the J.League MVP Award for his enormous contribution towards their league triumph this season.
Why Celtic Should Sign Him In The Winter Window
Iwata has operated as a right-back, centre-half as well as defensive midfielder across 82 appearances for Yokohama F. Marinos and the Hoops, therefore, would be boosted with another versatile option if a deal takes place in due time.
Celtic are sweating over Josip Juranovic’s future who is likely to draw the attention of many European heavyweights following a stellar performance for Croatia in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. They have tied down Alistair Johnston to challenge and cover Anthony Ralston down the right, also Reo Hatate stepped in and scored a brace on Saturday afternoon as a makeshift fullback amid the absence of regular names. Meanwhile, the Bhoys are highly reliant on Hatate in the middle of the park and the arrival of Iwata would offer more depth on the wide.
The Bhoys are blessed to have Cameron Carter-Vickers, Carl Starfelt, Moritz Jenz and Stephen Welsh in the heart of the backline. Kobayashi, too, could prove to be a useful addition, but the club are likely to sanction Welsh’s exit for first-team minutes. Iwata could grab the chance and slot in deep defence in the long run.
Nevertheless, his immediate future lies deep down the midfield as the understudy to skipper Callum McGregor. Oliver Abildgaard, on loan from Rubin Kazan, has not done enough to impress Postecoglou, whereas Ideguchi and veteran James McCarthy have hardly featured since their Parkhead switch. The fringe players might get offloaded soon to clear the wage bill and the J1 League sensation must make his opportunity count away from the Far East.