It is very rare that Celtic fans unanimously agree in their opinions on the Celtic team, but some players divide opinion more than others.
There are a couple of players in the current Celtic setup who have split opinion including the likes of David Turnbull and Joe Hart. The player who is perhaps the most polarising of all, however, is Daizen Maeda, with opinions on the Japanese international ranging anywhere from brilliant to absolutely horrible.
Why are opinions so split on the 25-year-old and just how good is he?
The key attribute in Daizen Maeda’s game that made him such an integral and indispensable player in Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic rebuild was his sheer energy, raw pace and work rate. Maeda was electric under the Aussie and was the epitome of what the fast-paced, high-pressing, heavy metal style of play was all about.
Maeda has the ability to burn opposition defenders with his pace, but his work rate helps out tremendously with the defensive side of the game. He will consistently track back and always offer an option and further protection down the left-hand side, something that has benefitted Greg Taylor greatly and allowed his game to come on leaps and bounds in recent seasons.
One thing that is often criticised about Maeda is his technical ability. When he first joined Celtic there were definitely some noticeable deficiencies when it came to the more technical side of his game and this was a blindingly obvious area of his play that had to be worked on.
Since around January of this year his technical game, albeit still needing to be a bit more refined, has noticeably improved and this can be attributed to the work that the winger has done behind the scenes with Celtic coach Harry Kewell. Working with someone who was such a skilful and intelligent player back in his playing days will have no doubt helped elevate Maeda’s game a long way.
Whilst he can still be prone to occasionally running the ball out of play or even looking like he is too fast for his own good, Maeda is still developing and his technical ability has clearly improved since arriving at Parkhead.
Another criticism of Daizen Maeda has been his finishing. Fans lack the confidence in him to find the back of the net when he is running through on goal, and he always seems to take a few attempts before he finds his shooting boots.
This has come to shoot Celtic in the foot a few times, in the Champions League in particular. In games against opponents of such stature and in games of such magnitude, every chance is a must-score chance and Maeda missed the mark last season more than once.
It could be argued, however, that with Maeda’s pace and movement, he makes up for his inconsistency in front of goal by creating so many opportunities for himself.
Whilst there are definitely deficiencies to Maeda’s game, the good far outweighs the bad and he is clearly a player who is eager to learn and improve, as seen by his development in his time at Parkhead so far. A player who works hard and will run through brick walls is incredibly valuable to a team, which makes Daizen Maeda incredibly valuable to Celtic.