Daizen Maeda joined Celtic in at the start of January initially on a short term loan spell from Yokohama until the end of the season with an agreement to make that a permanent move to Celtic at the end of the season. This transfer was agreed this way simply down to some technicalities and there was no real ‘try before you buy’ of …before you sign a permanent contract’ involved.
However the news that the Japan international forward is happy at Celtic and will conclude that contract by putting pen to paper is nevertheless welcome news for a player who has already won the affections of the Celtic support. Maeda got the equaliser against Hearts of Saturday, setting the platform for a 4-1 win which secured the three points and after theRangers won 2-0 at Ibrox against Dundee United yesterday resulted in the points difference remaining the same but the goal difference advantage rising to +20, with just two games remaining.
It would require an incredible swing in goals in the remaining four matches where Celtic play Dundee United at Tannadice in midweek and Motherwell at Celtic Park on Saturday and theRangers play Ross County at Ibrox in midweek and are away to Hearts on Saturday as the cinch premiership concludes. There will be no need for helicopters.
Celtic will then complete the £2m signing of Maeda from Yokohama but while the 24 year old non-stop motion merchant os delighted at the prospect of the deal being concluded he is nevertheless looking forward to a break after playing non-stop football for 18 months.
We joked back in February that when returning to Glasgow from International duty in Japan he decided against flying and instead opted to run, that being the faster option and you sort of know that the joke has been on theRangers as the January transfer arrives – especially Maeda, Reo Hatate and Matt O’Riley have contributed significantly to this title win.
They arrived at Celtic with us six points behind theRangers and all have scored significant goals to to turn that lead on its head and in favour of the Hoops.
I am happy here. But I am looking forward to resting,” Maeda admitted, as reported by Scottish Sun. “I have been playing since the beginning of last season in Japan. I will have to take enough rest to be ready to go again next season. I want to be at my best next season.”
Maeda praises Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou believing he is worthy of most of the credit for bringing the January signings to the club and delivering the title for the Celtic support. “To have the victory is very important. We got the result we needed and that is a nice feeling,” Maeda said.
“I know that last year Celtic couldn’t get the title. This is why when I came here I wanted to give absolutely everything to get a result for the team. I am happy with the way the move has turned out.
“There is not a big difference between Celtic and (the)Rangers, both teams play at a good level. But our manager brought a good attitude to us. He made us think the right way.”
With Kyogo already an immediate success at Celtic after arriving last summer, and Yosuke Ideguchi still really to make his mark after suffering that injury at Alloa in the Scottish Cup, the Japanese presence at Celtic is strong and the supporters absolutely adore the players Ange signed from the J-League.
“It’s nice to be with my countrymen of course,” Maeda admitted. “But we have to concentrate on football over everything else.
“In terms of next season we would like to play here as Japanese players together and keep getting stronger and better over a full season.”
Looking forward to this week, the chance to wrap up the title on Wednesday away to Dundee United then receive the trophy – hopefully from Scott Brown – on Saturday in front of 60,000 jubilant Celtic supporters at Paradise is something that Madea is extremely excited about, as indeed we all are.
“Next week, as always, we hope we will get to share the happiness we feel with our fans and supporters,” he said. “It wasn’t only against Hearts. Celtic fans are like that for us always and I am really happy to be here playing in that amazing atmosphere. It makes me happy.
“The weather has even improved recently and it feels very comfortable to live here now, I like it! But we don’t have the league title yet, so I will only think about that when everything is settled.”
David Potter’s new book, Putting on the Style, a biography of Celtic legend Willie Fernie is out next week, thanks to everyone who has pre-ordered and your copy will be posted out as soon as the lorry arrives. If you would like to order your copy please use the link provided below.