Japanese football expert Dan Orlowitz answers our questions on exciting new Celtic signing

By Euan Davidson

July 16, 2021

What a morning it’s been; barely had Scotland woken up, and Celtic announced the signing of Japanese international Kyogo Furuhashi.

The J-League’s current top scorer, Furuhashi had been identified as an ambitious potential target by 67 Hail Hail earlier this summer. We were also amongst the first to speak Japan Times reporter Dan Orlowitz about Ange Postecoglou, Celtic and the J-League.

Naturally, we decided to chat to Dan again, following this morning’s huge Celtic signing news. Quotes have been edited for length.

67 Hail Hail: Daily Sport quote a fee approaching £5m for Furuhashi; in the context of the J-League, how “big” a fee is that in terms of a J-League talent?

Orlowitz: “That’s nearly as big as it gets; £5m is what Arsenal paid Sanfrecce Hiroshima for Takuma Asano which is the record fee for a Japanese player from the J.League.

Ange Postecoglou shares Celtic transfer confidence

“Considering that, it’s a massive show of confidence in Furuhashi’s level of talent that Celtic were willing to offer this much. If indeed this is the final figure.”

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What’s the Japanese football fan’s take on Furuhashi? Do they believe he can cut it in Europe?

“As I think I said about Ange Postecoglou, it was never a question of ‘if’ Furuhashi was bound for Europe. Only a matter of ‘when’ and ‘where.’ Everyone recognises him as a phenomenal talent.

“If he only has 6 caps for Japan it’s due to the circumstances of the pandemic. He’s got the maturity, he’s got the skills. He’s got a breathtaking endorsement from Andrés Iniesta (who is the player he works best with on the pitch, another sign of greatness). He can get it done.”

“He can get it done”; Japanese football expert Dan Orlowitz on new Celtic signing Kyogo Furuhashi

Furuhashi can play anywhere across a front-three; is he strongest on the left?

“Definitely strongest on the left but can also do well as a central striker.”

What are Furuhashi’s best qualities aside from goal-scoring, and how does he fit into an Ange Postecoglou team?

“He’s just a technician with the ball, it’s practically glued to his feet when he dribbles. Just a superb attacker in every aspect. Of course, he’s also able to run back and contribute to defending. [That’s] something that’s important in Ange’s style, which he’ll be very familiar with and adjust easily to.”

Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images

From what you’d heard, is it true that there was interest from clubs including PSV Eindhoven and RSC Anderlecht? If so, is this a coup for the Bhoys?

“There was certainly interest from elsewhere. But Celtic are absolutely a bigger club in terms of the history as well as the recognition in Japan. [The signing is a] big win for Celtic.

“With the caveat that now that they’ve shown their willingness to pay top dollar for a Japanese player, they’ll have to be equally magnanimous if they come back for a second.”

Dan Orlowitz [Japan Times] certainly knows his stuff when it comes to Japanese football. He predicted that supporters would take to Ange Postecoglou, and we have. Now, he’s suggesting Furuhashi has the skills to be a success at Celtic.

This is an exciting signing, and there’s no two ways about it. How quickly we’ll be able to see the Japanese forward in Celtic colours isn’t clear, but he’s got the backing of a footballing nation.

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