Social media has been abuzz in the past week by the news of Kyogo Furuhashi’s transfer from J.League 1 side Vissel Kobe to Scottish giants Glasgow Celtic. The exciting winger has gotten the European move that he deserves after years of consistent performances for Vissel, but what can Celtic fans expect from the 26-year old?
All eyes were on Furuhashi as Vissel took on Cerezo Osaka in a J1 match last Saturday, which was the winger’s last game for the men from Hyogo Prefecture. The match at the Misaki Park Stadium ended in a 1-1 stalemate and those watching Furuhashi were not disappointed at all as he scored the opening goal in the 30th minute – a delicious effort from close-range after Furuhashi had played a decisive one-two with Gotoku Sakai.
Koji Toriumi did spoil the farewell party by scoring a 90th minute equalizer for Cerezo but none of that mattered as Furuhashi bid farewell to the J1 in the only way that he knows best. A tearful Furuhashi thanked everyone at Vissel for their support towards him, while club captain Andres Iniesta also pay tribute to an excellent teammate of his.
So much so was Iniesta’s influence on world football, every Celtic fan around the world had their ears perked up at his glowing words for Furuhashi, which hyped up the Japan international’s arrival to Celtic Park even more. Though a relative unknown outside of Japan, having played alongside Iniesta had apparently given Furuhashi the all clear that he needs from European football fans – it’s only the matter of proving Iniesta’s praise for him on the pitch that would justify the excitement surrounding his arrival.
Another factor that helped Furuhashi’s relatively quick welcome to Celtic is the fact that the one time the Bhoys had signed someone from Japan, he ended up becoming a legend at Celtic Park.
Shunsuke Nakamura was signed from Italian side Reggina in 2005 and in the four years that he spent in Celtic Park, Nakamura established himself as one of Celtic’s key players during that period. His blistering free-kicks became a trademark of his that was etched in the minds of every Celtic fan witnessing his magic on the pitch and Nakamura left Celtic in 2009 as an established club legend with 156 appearances and 34 goals for the Scottish giants in all competitions.
Surely, considering Nakamura’s high regard in Celtic, expectations are high that Furuhashi are to follow in his senior compatriot’s footsteps at Celtic Park. Despite this, Furuhashi has repeatedly turned down comparisons between himself, Nakamura, and other Japanese legends such as Keisuke Honda and Hidetoshi Nakata, insisting that he will carve out a name for himself.
One man within the Celtic setup has known Furuhashi all too well and was instrumental in bringing him to Scotland – new head coach Ange Postecoglou. Having taken charge of Yokohama F. Marinos prior to his Celtic switch, Postecoglou had came to blows with Furuhashi a number of times, most notably in the 2020 Japanese Super Cup where Furuhashi scored a goal and turned out an excellent performance to win Vissel their first title in the competition at the expense of Postecoglou’s Yokohama side.
Having witnessed Furuhashi in action himself from the Yokohama dugout, Postecoglou must’ve taken mental notes about the player that helped him in his decision to bring the former FC Gifu player to Scotland. With his game plan based around constant movements and fast-paced attacks, Furuhashi would’ve fitted Postecoglou’s mold perfectly and with Vissel unwilling to offload him to a league rival that easily, the Aussie bide his time and finally got himself an opportunity to approach Furuhashi once he went to the bigger pond that is Celtic.
As a winger, Furuhashi was often tasked in slicing defenses open for an attack, with a knack of finishing things off from close-range like his final goal for Vissel. However he’s also not shy from taking pops from distance, a sign that he’s a danger for defenses from all range.
Furuhashi’s pace is also vital for Postecoglou’s plans of stretching out an opposition’s defense and he’s also quite capable of unleashing his teammates within the full-back positions should Postecoglou wishes to. Furuhashi’s also more than willing to go physical despite his small stature, something that would prove vital in the more physical and rugged nature of Scottish football.
With Premier League side Brighton & Hove Albion eyeing the opportunity to snag Odsonne Edouard away from Celtic Park and fellow attacker Leigh Griffiths being affected by a number of issues off the pitch, Furuhashi would be a much-needed addition to the Celtic frontline should Odsonne gets his move and Griffiths is unable to make the most out of the last chance that Postecoglou had provided to him.
Postecoglou had also brought in young Israeli attacker Liel Abada into his side from Maccabi Petah Tikva, who would become an excellent partner for Furuhashi should the two were allowed to grow together.
However, quarantine measures meant that both Abada and Furuhashi won’t be available for Celtic’s first competitive match of the season, a UEFA Champions League qualifying tie against Denmark’s FC Midtjylland on Tuesday night, however Celtic fans will be more than eager to see them turn out for the Bhoys in the Scottish Premiership this season.