More than sprints; Celtic target Maeda's unreal numbers and what he can do for Ange

By Euan Davidson

December 16, 2021

Celtic fans probably feel well-versed in the game of Yokohama F Marinos star Daizen Maeda.

Quite right, too; we know about his ridiculous sprinting numbers. We know the price we might be able to get him for. What’s more, we’re aware that he was the J League’s joint-top scorer for 2021. It might well have been Kyogo Furuhashi, who led the charts for months, but of course, we stole him away in the summer.

But there’s even more to Daizen Maeda and his game that makes him stand out, and he could be an electrifying signing for Ange Postecoglou.

Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

Per Sacha Pisani of Keep Up, there’s more than sprinting to Maeda’s game. Though, let’s get it out of the way first; he had the most sprints in the J League, with 1,457. The next best was Tsuyoshi Ogashiwa with 869. When he motors away, Maeda is some sight.

But Pisani also pointed to some other key facets of his game. Maeda led the league for shots on target. He led the league in “big chances” with 33, scoring 18. If that wasn’t enough, he was top of the pops in the J League for touches in the opposition box, with 190 [Keep Up].

Taking a look at his defensive abilities, we can turn to FBRef. It shows that in the 2021 season, he was making 0.68 interceptions and 0.74 successful tackles per 90. That compares well with strikers known for playing in high-pressing teams. Although Mo Salah plays in the Premier League, he’s a useful benchmark here; Salah makes 0.31 interceptions a game [FBRef].

If we needed any more fire-power, then Maeda has that. If those numbers sound phenomenal, it’s because they are.

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Celtic bringing in Daizen Maeda could be a game-changer for Ange

It’s not as if Celtic don’t already have some fantastic attacking options, at least when everyone’s fit. The combination of Jota, Kyogo and Abada has been lethal. Mikey Johnston has contributed, as has James Forrest, who scored a vital goal in the Premier Sports Cup Final.

Giorgos Giakoumakis could be a big player when he cuts himself loose from injury woes. Albian Ajeti, maligned as he often is, has still scored goals for Celtic this season.

But we’ve seen what happens when you add a J League top scorer to this Celtic side. Especially one who’s willing to work relentlessly on and off the ball. They become an absolute hero to the supporters.

Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

Yes, Maeda has played in Europe before, to minimal effect. But that was during a period where Covid was a dominant factor in football. Granted, it still is, but if Maeda’s given a proper run of games in a side with the attacking intent of Celtic, the evidence suggests there’ll be fireworks.

If anything, Maeda seemed the more likely buy when Ange came to Celtic. After all, it was Postecoglou who signed him for Yokohama F Marinos.

There was already excitement about the guy, based largely on his goals and his sprints. There is, though, even more to his game than that. What a signing this could be for Celtic if the club get it done.

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