Celtic’s business in the Asian market has been predominantly successful over the years. Despite rarely dipping into that transfer region pre-Postecoglou, Celtic had previously secured some genuine talents in the shape of Shunsuke Nakamura and Ki Sung-yeung. There were some flops, of course, with the names of Du Wei and Koki Mizuno not even consigned to a footnote in the club’s history.
The arrival of Ange Postecoglou in 2021 opened up new markets for Celtic, as the Aussie brought with him a wealth of knowledge in untapped talent, particularly from the J-League.
This saw Celtic bring in Kyogo Furuhashi in Ange’s first window, and the striker immediately hit the ground running. The success of Furuhashi further encouraged Celtic to return to the well, and they added Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi to the roster the following January.
Ideguchi didn’t make a similar impact, and there was at once a clear difference between the midfielder and the two countrymen he signed alongside. This wasn’t Ideguchi‘s first crack at European football. He had seen a previous spell at Leeds United going disastrously, with loan periods at Leon in Spain as well as Greuther Furth in Germany not showing any signs of improvement.
His previous European failures, as well as a slow start to life at Celtic, quickly led to concerns that he wouldn’t see the same success as Maeda, Hatate and Kyogo. Very early on, there seemed to be an onimous tone around this player’s chance of success.
He took a little longer than the other Japanese signings to adjust to life at Celtic, and an injury on his first start in a Scottish Cup clash with Alloa Athletic saw him ruled out of action for a prolonged period of time.
The 27-year-old was incredibly unlucky at Celtic, with injuries constantly cropping up through the beginning of the 2022/23 campaign. When he was afforded first-team minutes, he didn’t help his case as he failed to really set the world alight or do anything extraordinary to warrant more time on the park.
Half-way through the 2022/23 season, Celtic signed the J-League’s MVP in Tomoki Iwata, and the acquisition of another midfielder signalled the end of Ideguchi‘s time at Celtic.
A return to familiar surroundings seemed inevitable and the player was sent on loan to Avispa Fukuoka in January 2023.
He regained his place in the team after returning from injury, however, and was the standout performer as he helped Avispa Fukuoka to their highest ever finish in the J-League as well as being nominated for the league’s MVP award.
Ideguchi’s struggles in his European endeavours show that the J-League is where he is at his best, and it came as no surprise this morning when the player secured a permanent move to champions Vissel Kobe.
There is clearly a quality player there, but Celtic just wasn’t the club for him.
JAMES MCKENZIE // Follow James HERE