Tomoki Iwata names the impressive Celtic stalwart he is hoping to learn from

By Lewis Laird

February 8, 2023

January signing Tomoki Iwata has admitted he is looking to learn and develop from playing alongside Hoops captain Callum McGregor

The versatile midfielder was the third piece of transfer business conducted by Ange Postecoglou in the winter market last month.

Having played under the Celtic boss at his last club Yokohama F Marinos, the 25-year-old knows the sort of standards he must reach.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

After not taking part in a competitive fixture since November, understandably, the Japanese international need some time to get up to speed.

However, Iwata has made his first few appearances for the Hoops off the bench in fixtures against Greenock Morton and Livingston in recent weeks.

The midfielder will have spent the last month acclimatising to life in Glasgow and his new teammates at Lennoxtown.

Speaking in a recent interview with media outlets in his homeland, Iwata briefly reflected on his move to Celtic and ambitions to play in Europe.

The Hoops new number 24 also expressed that he had been left impressed with Celtic captain Callum McGregor, and it appears he is hoping to learn lots from the academy graduate.

He said [Yahoo Japan]: “I knew if I wanted to play in European football, I would have to play as a holding midfielder. That’s where the manager used me at Yokohama.

Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

“It’s been about a month since I came here, but the speed and intensity of play is different from Japan, and even the ball and pitches are all different.

“The reality is I can’t do as well as I did in Japan because we have Kyogo Furuhashi, Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate who all start games, and they all have something special that they can do…and I don’t. So I want to gradually get used to it and play more matches.

“My strengths as a holding midfielder are tackling and breaking up moves. But in this Celtic team, you need to have something extra.

“Here we have players who can create the tempo of an attack and distribute passes, for example, Callum McGregor.

“Callum McGregor is the heart of the team and the captain. I think the bar is set very high for me to be able to compete with him. But I have my own way of developing. Even if I don’t play in as many games, there are things I can learn from him in training.

“When I see how he passes the ball or how he makes a change of tempo, he is very consistent, which is something I lack. I think it’s important to learn that in a short time and evolve into a player who can do something when he has the ball.

“A large part of my motivation to sign for Celtic was to play in the Champions League, and I would love to do that next season, and I will keep fighting to improve my game here.”

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Callum McGregor continues to maintain the standards and set the best example for new signings.

Ange Postecoglou has had a terrific strike rate in the transfer window. But one of the positions that has arguably evaded the boss is sitting midfielder.

The likes of James McCarthy and Oliver Abildgaard have failed to make the breakthrough into the Bhoys’ starting 11 or even have a major impact on the squad.

Of course, it is an incredibly difficult task when you have such a quality player like Callum McGregor ahead in the pecking order. However, Postecoglou may have been looking to add another option, which will also him to deploy his skipper further forward.

I am sure he will have high hopes that Tomoki Iwata can be that man, given that he worked with the midfielder at Yokohama F Marinos.

The addition from the J-League does need some time to settle in, and who better to set the example of what the standards are at Celtic than McGregor?

Iwata has clearly been left impressed with what he has seen from the Scotland international and sounds keen to learn as much as possible.

That is a real positive sign, and it is great to hear of the midfielder’s keenness to develop as a player and play at the highest level with the Hoops.

Here’s hoping we can see a bit more of the January signing in the coming few weeks and months!

In other news, “I don’t see it”; Celtic supporting EFL boss delivers outlook on latest Ange Postecoglou interest.