Soccer: J-League trio Maeda, Hatate, Ideguchi join Celtic

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Scottish Premier League heavyweights Celtic announced the signing Friday of J-League players Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi in a blockbuster January transfer window move.

The Japanese trio will join Samurai Blue attacker Kyogo Furuhashi at the Glasgow club, which is managed by former Yokohama F Marinos and Australian national team boss Ange Postecoglou.

Kawasaki Frontale utility Hatate and Gamba Osaka midfielder Ideguchi will make full transfers on four-and-a-half-year contracts, while Yokohama F Marinos striker Maeda is on loan through June 2022, after which he is expected to ink a permanent deal.

"Clearly, I am well aware of their attributes and I think in bringing all three to the club we are bringing even more quality, personality and energy to the squad to work with the players who have done so well for us already this season," Postecoglou said.

The J-League's joint top scorer the past season with 23 goals, Maeda played for Postecoglou at Marinos before the Australian departed Nissan Stadium last June.

The 24-year-old forward spent a season with Portuguese side Maritimo on loan from J2 outfit Matsumoto Yamaga before joining Marinos in mid-2020.

Fellow 2020 Olympic team member Hatate was a linchpin of the Frontale side that won back-to-back J-League first-division championships the past two seasons. The 24-year-old is capable of playing multiple attacking positions and fullback.

A central midfielder with a high work rate, the 25-year-old Ideguchi famously sealed Japan's 2018 World Cup qualification with a wonder goal against a Socceroos side managed by Postecoglou in 2017.

He will look to make his mark in Europe after an unsuccessful earlier stint with English side Leeds, for whom he only played a handful of preseason friendlies.

Celtic fans will hope the new Japanese trio can make a similar impact to Furuhashi, who is among the SPL's top goal scorers and recently helped the club win the Scottish League Cup, netting both goals in a 2-1 victory over Hibernian in the Dec. 19 final.

Celtic are second in the league on 45 points after 20 matches, six behind cross-city rivals Rangers.