“What a decision”; Chris Sutton blown away by Daizen Maeda after superb Celtic derby display

By David Walton

April 4, 2022

Chris Sutton has picked out Celtic striker Daizen Maeda for praise after a superb first derby start at Ibrox yesterday.

Maeda was one of 5 Celtic players making their Ibrox derby debuts after swatting Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team aside at Parkhead back in February. The 3-0 win over our rivals saw Maeda come on for the final half hour. Yesterday, however, was a hugely different experience.

The Japanese international was in from the start in the most hostile atmosphere these Celtic players will experience domestically. Yet he put in a sensational individual performance full of running and energy to ensure we left Govan with 3 vital points.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

And Sutton was left blown away by the levels produced by Daizen as he fully announced himself with an impressive derby showing. Speaking via his Daily Record column, Sutton said: “The other choice in my eyes was Daizen Maeda or Liel Abada. It was my feeling that the Israeli might be preferred. But the manager chose to go for Maeda and what a decision that was. I could scarcely believe his running power.

“Everyone knows he brings energy to the team, but that was next level stuff. Maeda worked the Rangers backline in terms of through passes and trying to get in goal. He worked his way back down the pitch to help out in various areas and he was still running around in the final seconds.

“Not giving defenders peace or space to look up and pick passes and keep pressure on. It’s rare you see someone get through that amount of work in a single game.”

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Daizen Maeda proving every bit worth the £1.6m Celtic will pay for him

Come the summer, it’s been reported that Celtic will pay £1.6m to complete the permanent purchase of Maeda [Scottish Daily Mail, print edition, 01/01, back page]. Already, that’s looking like one heck of a bargain.

It’s probably fair to say that Maeda isn’t exactly the player we thought we were getting. Sure, we knew he was a speed merchant at the time of signing. But it looked as though he was going to be another operator up top. That he’s managed to nail down the left-wing spot as his own says a lot about him.

Let’s not forget that it was Jota shining in that position throughout the first half of the season. Since his return, the Portuguese youth international has widely been utilised on the right. The reason being that Maeda just seems to be undroppable at the moment.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

He deserves all of the praise coming his way. To adapt to Scottish football the way he has in such a short period of time is certainly impressive. Yes, Kyogo set a trend with his blistering form in the start half of the season after arriving from Japan. But let’s not pretend that it isn’t a difficult adjustment for players to make.

It looks as though we’re on to something exciting with Maeda. Yesterday was his acid test and he came through it with flying colours. He embodies everything Ange wants in his Celtic players, and that’s not something that can be bought.

Maeda will have his sights set on a strong end to the season now as we look ahead to a major month for the club.

In other news, Kenny Miller’s desperate penalty call for rivals; incredibly dismisses clear Celtic claim