Kyogo Furuhashi has made a significant contribution at Celtic since his summer arrival from Vissel Kobe in the J1 League, and he's become the poster boy for the high-octane pressing game sought by Ange Postecoglou.
The Japanese livewire has become an instant hit in Glasgow’s East End. His goalscoring prowess will earn him individual awards, but his intelligent link-up play and incessant pressing are equally impressive.
Kyogo sets the tone for his side with his tireless running out of possession. He is constantly scurrying and scampering in an attempt to unnerve opponents, and his industry and endeavour are endearing qualities.
The transfer fee for Kyogo's big move was around the £5 million mark, a significant outlay for a Scottish club. But he quickly allayed fears regarding his suitability for the rough and tumble of the domestic scene by bagging a hat-trick on his home debut against Dundee - and he has been tormenting defences ever since.
The Japanese international has netted 14 times in 24 appearances for his new club, but the goals have not been free-flowing in recent weeks. He has been uncharacteristically wasteful in the final third, yet his overall contribution has remained strong.
Kyogo currently sits joint-second in the goalscoring charts behind a rejuvenated Tony Watt of Sunday’s opponents Motherwell, however it would be a surprise if he's not at the top of the pile when individual prizes are distributed in the spring.
Any player making waves in Scotland, especially a recent signing, will generate media attention regarding future prospects. Kyogo has indicated he has aspirations to showcase his talent in the English Premier League, but his peak years are likely to be in green and white.
Since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, 10 Japanese players have competed in the English top-flight - and only Maya Yoshida and Shinji Okazaki can be considered success stories. Takehiro Tomiyasu has made a promising start to life at Arsenal though, and he is flying the flag for his nation.
Kyogo, a late arrival to the European game, has perhaps missed his window of opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Odsonne Edouard, Virgil van Dijk and many others. The poor record of Japanese players in England could count against him, and at nearly 27 he is relatively old to still be plying his trade in a perceived weaker league.
The 2021 J1 League season commenced in February, and by the time Kyogo had touched down in Glasgow to put pen-to-paper on a four-year contract, he'd already played a considerable amount of minutes. It seemed inevitable his hectic schedule would eventually negatively impact him, and a suspected hamstring injury ended his participation against Real Betis in the Europa League on Thursday evening.
Early indications suggest Kyogo is set for a spell on the sidelines - and his enforced absence is a further blow to an already injury-ravaged squad, especially with an encounter with Rangers looming large on the horizon.
Kyogo missed the majority of September fixtures with a knee complaint, and his colleagues managed just two wins from five games without him. Celtic lack the squad depth to replace such an influential figure, and his absence will only hasten Postecoglou’s need to delve into the January sales.
Celtic appear set to target the J1 League as they seek mid-season reinforcements for their title challenge. Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi have been linked with a potential move to Scotland, and the trio will not need to look far for a role model to inspire them.
Postecoglou has already proved his adeptness in the transfer-market with the capture of Kyogo. If he can uncover another gem from the land of the rising sun, his hopes of an unforgettable May will only increase.
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