3 J-League right-backs Ange Postecoglou should try to tempt to Celtic

By Euan Davidson

July 22, 2021

If there’s a market Ange Postecoglou knows, it’s the J-League. Having won a title with Yokohama F Marinos, and becoming beloved by supporters nationwide in the process, the Celtic boss has pulling power in the Far East.

He’s already flexed his contacts books by bringing in Kyogo Furuhashi. One of the J-League’s top talents, Celtic and Ange Postecoglou were delighted to bring in some much-needed fire-power for 21-22 [Celtic FC].

That’s all very good. However, the Bhoys need to strengthen in other positions, too. Former J-League defender Ko Itakura, linked with Celtic, wants to play for a “world-famous club”. He’d be an excellent option in the middle. However, it’s right-back that needs strengthened most.

So, with his expertise of the J-League, and a reputation that’ll help any negotiations in Japan, who could Celtic look at to bolster the right side of defence?

Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Celtic’s exciting right-back links are cause for real optimism

Miki Yamane – a J-League assist machine who’d suit Celtic under Ange Postecoglou

If you want goals and assists from the right-back position, Miki Yamane of Kawasaki Frontale is your man.

Comfortable at either right-back or centre-back, Yamane is 27, and has earned 4 caps for the Japan national team. Interestingly, his contract runs out in January of 2022, and clubs will certainly be interested.

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Why would they be interested? In the 20-21 season alone, Yamane set up 10 goals and scored twice [Transfermarkt]. As a right-back. Were he playing for Celtic last season, he’d have led the Hoops for total assists.

It’s the kind of production Celtic could certainly use from that slot. Not that he’s a slouch defensively, either. Kawasaki Frontale have only conceded 15 goals in 22 games [Goal].

A Super Cup, Japanese Cup and J-League winner with Frontale, it might be time for the 27-year-old to consider his options outside of his home country. If that’s the case, Postecoglou ought to be on the phone. Adept at playing in the middle, too, his positional versatility could well suit the inverted full-back system the Celtic boss wants to use.

Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

Takahiro Yanagi – a 6ft speed merchant

Now, here’s a guy who’d impress Celtic supporters.

The Bhoys have generally played some pretty short full-backs in recent seasons. Since Mikael Lustig, we’ve seen Jeremie Frimpong, Anthony Ralston, Greg Taylor, Adam Montgomery, all non-giants, fill the full-back roles. Hatem Abd Elhamed aside, it’s been an area of the park dominated by smaller guys.

Nothing wrong with that, of course. But if you can combine height with speed, you’re onto something as far as full-backs go. Takahiro Yanagi fits the bill.

Like Frimpong, the 23-year-old Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo full-back Yanagi likes to rove further up the park. Whether on international duty or in the J-League, Yanagi likes to pick the ball up in advanced positions and cut inside. Alternatively, he can outmuscle counter-attacking left-wingers, and carry the ball himself into dangerous zones of the park.

Having played his way up the Japanese footballing pyramid, and capped at youth international level, this 6ft flyer has bags of pace and a solid first touch that gets himself out of trouble.

His contract also runs out in January 2022 [Transfermarkt].

Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images

Teruki Hara – a versatile J-League option who could fit the inverted full-back system under Ange Postecoglou

Soon, I reckon we’ll look back on the inverted full-back thing and laugh. What fools we were, we’ll say, that this seemed like a new idea. Now everyone’s doing it, it makes so much sense.

But for Celtic to get the best out of the tactic, they might want to look at Shimizu S-Pulse’s Teruki Hara. The 22-year-old is nominally a right-back, but he’s played on the left, in either centre-back slot, and on either side of midfield.

That’s versatility. And it’s not as if he’s a jack of all trades and master of none type of player, either. With over 100 career appearances at just 22 years of age [Transfermarkt], the guy can play a bit.

A stand-out for a struggling S-Pulse side, Hara has added some attacking bite to his game. He’s managed 2 goals and 1 assist in the J-League thus far, but it’s what he does in build-up play that’s most exciting.

Adept at clearing the ball, Hara can pick out a pass from deep, quickly turning defence into attack. That’s what Postecoglou is looking for from his defenders. Furthermore, he’s keen to drop deep, and come in centrally to spray passes into wide positions, or to an attacker exploring space.

Positionally and technically, he has all the tools. At 22, he’s still got time on his side and, for whatever reason, he’s also out of contract from February 2022.

In other news: Celtic add to international contingent