The important Daizen Maeda to Celtic aspect that's in danger of being overlooked
It’s fair to say that the news of Daizen Maeda closing in on a move to Celtic has been met with widespread excitement.
Sky Sports today reported that the Yokohama F Marinos forward is close to a loan switch, with an option to make the move permanent in the summer. A report from Yahoo Japan last night claimed a deal could be done for as little as £1.68m in the summer.
The move would mean that Maeda would become Ange Postecoglou’s second signing from the J-League after the summer arrival of Kyogo Furuhashi from Vissel Kobe. Kyogo has been a revelation in Scotland, slamming home 16 goals in 26 appearances [Transfermarkt]. The excitement stemming from the Maeda news comes directly from the impact made by Kyogo.
But it’s also important to remember a key aspect of signing Maeda that cannot be overlooked. Given the instant success of Kyogo, who took no time at all to adapt to Scottish football, there’s massive expectation on Maeda to do the same. This is also heightened due to the fact it’s an immediate loan move combined with the vital fixtures we have ahead of us.
After finishing the J-League’s top scorer in 2021, Maeda will be expected to hit the ground running. But it’s absolutely vital we all take into account just how big a step this is in more ways than one.
The Scottish Premiership is a totally different footballing environment to the J-League. Just because Kyogo made an instant success of things here doesn’t mean that Maeda won’t need time and patience. We’re talking about different human beings here with potentially different mentalities.
The scale of change between Japan and Scotland cannot be underestimated
It could be that Maeda needs more adaption time than Kyogo. There’s no need to be confused, for example, if Daizen fails to score a hat-trick in his first game at Celtic Park. No need to raise an eyebrow if there’s no goals in his first 5 outings or so. The scale of change he’ll be undergoing has to be respected.
Like Kyogo, he’s spent the vast majority of his footballing days in Japan. At only 24, he would also arrive 2 years Kyogo’s junior. For him to make a similar impact to the former Vissel Kobe man so quickly would be nothing other than a Christmas miracle.
Not that we should be waiting 6 months or so for Maeda to do something of course. He’ll be expected to play a big part in the Scottish Premiership title run-in. His goal return is why he’s been signed in the first place. That and the fact he’s a different kind of striker to anything we have.
But everything is going to change for the player should he sign for Celtic. He’ll not just be in a different footballing environment with a lot more media scrutiny and attention, but he’ll be integrating into a different way of life. Not forgetting the fact he’ll be arriving slap bang in the middle of a hugely important title race.
So whilst excitement for January arrivals is encouraged, it’s important not to forget some of the more vital details. Signings from Japan won’t all make the immediate impact Kyogo has. And it’s in times like those in which they’ll need to be given time to show their worth.
Who knows? Maeda could very well be another Furuhashi and take Scottish football by storm instantaneously. But that isn’t an expectation that should be placed on his shoulders so quickly.