Gamba Osaka midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi, who at 25 still possesses the tools that saw him heavily involved in Japan’s qualifying campaign for Russia 2018.
Dan Orlowitz of the Japan Times writes – Though Ideguchi is just half a year older than his two fellow Signings, he feels a generation removed. The Gamba Osaka product was named the J. League’s Best Young Player of 2016 and earned 11 appearances for Vahid Halilhodzic’s Samurai Blue in the following year.
His unforgettable goal in one of those games — a rocket from outside the penalty area after muscling off several Australian defenders during a World Cup qualifying win — is one that Postecoglou won’t soon forget, as he was standing in the Socceroos technical area at the time.
But the Fukuoka native flew too close to the sun with his 2018 move to Leeds United, which saw him loaned to second-division Spanish side Cultural Leonessa and miss out on the World Cup after struggling to earn playing time. A severe knee injury during his subsequent loan to Germany’s Greuther Furth further derailed Ideguchi’s European journey, and he has not returned to the brilliance of his early seasons since re-joining Gamba in the summer of 2019.
While Ideguchi’s initial appearance on Celtic’s radar may have come as a surprise, he is in many ways a perfect fit for the team’s current needs in central midfield, and his aggressive defensive pressing and ability to force turnovers are well suited for Postecoglou’s style. His recent form may raise eyebrows, but Ideguchi’s potential ceiling — if he rediscovers his 2017-era form — should be enough to convince Celtic fans to let Postecoglou chip out the elephant he sees in Ideguchi’s marble block.
“My first attempt to play overseas didn’t go well and through that disappointment I felt my lack of ability,” Ideguchi said in his farewell message. “This time I want to work hard and perform well, so I can deliver good news to Gamba’s supporters.
“I wouldn’t be who I am without Gamba Osaka; this club is like a family to me. Thank you for taking care of me for the last 12 years. … I dream of coming back again one day.”