Former Celtic player Kris Commons has today compared Celtic under Ange Postecoglou to Shakhtar Donetsk in regards to how cornering a certain market may prove beneficial to the club going forward.
For decades now Shakhtar Donetsk have been known for tapping into the Brazilian market to unearth rough diamonds who they polish into better players they can then sell on for huge profits and Commons thinks that with Ange Postecoglou’s knowledge of Japanese football, Celtic can use the same template.
Celtic signed Kyogo Furuhashi during the summer who has turned out to be a superstar in the making, so have returned to plunder Japanese clubs once more this time bringing in 3 players during the current window. Daizen Maeda from Yokohama F. Marinos, Yosuke Ideguchi from Gamba Osaka and Reo Hatate from Kawasaki Frontale have all signed contracts at Celtic Park and will be looking to impress after leaving their home country.
Explaining his theory, Commons wrote in his Scottish Daily Mail column: “For Scottish clubs, Japan and indeed much of the rest of Asia has always been a market left largely untapped. The likes of Shunsuke Nakamura always felt like the exception rather than the rule. So, too, the South Korean duo of Ki Sung-yeung and Cha Du-ri. The less said about Du Wei and Koki Mizuno the better.
“But the thing you have to remember about Nakamura is that he was already well established in European football after three seasons with Reggina in the Italian Serie A prior to Celtic signing him. The same applied to Cha Du-ri, who had forged a good career in the German Bundesliga and won almost 80 caps for the South Korean national team, as well as playing in two World Cups.
“So it makes a change for Celtic to go straight to source and get these new players from their clubs in Asia, albeit they did it with Ki from FC Seoul.
With Ange Postecoglou having managed for a few years in Japan he has been able to view the league’s best talents first hand and Commons thinks this puts Celtic at a huge advantage. Commons stated “But that’s the advantage they now have by employing a head coach with an extensive knowledge of the market in that part of the world.
“If there are any rough diamonds to be found, Postecoglou will know exactly where to look. He could help Celtic unearth a goldmine of exciting new talent. It can be hugely beneficial and profitable for a club to devote a lot of their scouting resources into one specific country or region.
“Shakhtar Donetsk have almost turned it into an art form over the past 20 years, by the way in which they continually sign talented young Brazilians, develop them, and then sell them on for huge profit. Clearly there isn’t the same depth of talent available in Japan as there is in the likes of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
“But the same principle still applies, albeit on a smaller scale. No one is asking Celtic to sign half-a-dozen young Brazilians every other year. It’s having the ability to identify young talent at source which is the key. If they can set up the right supply lines and get even just two or three talented Japanese boys every so often, it could prove to be massively beneficial.
Going on to discuss the type of bargains that can be found in the Asian market, Commons used the example of Borrusia Dortmund paying relative pennies in footballing terms to acquire Shinji Kagawa, who was hugely successful in Germany before the club cashed in and sold the midfielder to Manchester United.
“Just over ten years ago, Borussia Dortmund paid around £250,000 for a young lad by the name of Shinji Kagawa from Cerezo Osaka. In the space of just two seasons, Kagawa had helped Dortmund win back-to-back Bundesliga titles under Jurgen Klopp and established himself as one of the most gifted midfielders in Europe.
“Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United then came calling, paying a fee in the region of £16m for the little Japanese technician. t might not be too long until Celtic are fielding similar big money bids for Kyogo. That’s the kind of talent available in the Far East if you know where to look.”
It’s true to say that Celtic are definitely using their current managers knowledge of a market to try and find bargains and strengthen the squad. We have been incredibly fortunate to have unearthed Kyogo but not all our Japanese signings will be as successful as our little striker, but with the prices we are paying it’s definitely worth the risk to see if we can find a few more of the same ilk.
The money spent on these players would barely get you a highly rated prospect in the British market never mind international standard players. Hopefully we will strike it lucky once more with the three players arriving this month and with Ange’s eye for a player I’m in no doubt they will make a good impression in Scotland.