Prem clubs should be queuing for Kyogo – but Celtic should demand top dollar for Japanese jewel

John Nicholson
Celtic's Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates after the Premiership match at Tynecastle Stadium.

Johnny Nic reckons Kyogo Furuhashi is ripe for a big move this summer. Just don’t turn up at Celtic’s door with a pittance for the SPL’s top-scorer.

Here’s What’s So Great About Kyogo…


Who’s this then?
Kyogo Furuhashi is a 5’7” Japanese striker who currently plays for Celtic, is the top scorer in Scotland this season and is sure to be subjected to substantial transfer bids this summer.

Born in Ikoma, Nara, his professional career began at FC Gifu in 2017, after playing for Chuo University for three years. Becoming a professional aged 22 is unusual in the west, but less so in Japan.

He played 71 times for the club in the second tier, scoring 17 times and notching 18 assists. In August 2018 he transferred to Vissel Kobe for £150,000 and stayed there until 2021, playing 111 games and scoring 49 times, making 18 assists, winning the Emperor’s Cup in 2019 and the Japanese Super Cup 2020.

In the summer of 2021, Celtic turned up, dropped €5.4million on the floor and as much square sausage as they could fit into a suitcase, in return for Kyogo’s skills. New manager, Ange Postecoglu knew the player and after managing in the country, saw that Japan was full of technically great players who were available for not much money. Something that English clubs seemed shamefully unaware about, possibly because they feared the Japanese wouldn’t ‘know the club’ because knowing the club seems to do a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to decision-making in English football.

He hit the ground running at Celtic and impressed from the get-go. The Scottish tradition is to get one of the big rough boys to play as striker, but Furuhashi was an altogether different prospect. He scored 20 goals in 33 games last season and has stepped it up even further this campaign, netting 31 times in 47 games, adding in 10 assists. Celtic won the League and League Cup double last year and are looking to make it a Treble this year in Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final. He’s already won PFA Scotland Players’ Player of the Year. Safe to say he’s been a massive success and that success has led to several more raids on the JLeague by Ange and even England seems to have woken up to the idea with Kaoru Mitoma being fantastic at Brighton.

Celtic striker Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates League Cup goal


Why the love?
The titchy forward has fallen out of fashion recently in favour of the six-foot-three-broad, big pacey bugger but Furuhashi has proven that there’s more than one way to score and create goals and you don’t need to be a massive hard bastard to do it. Interestingly, on arrival, he laughed off suggestions that he wouldn’t be able to physically compete, presumably confident he could handle himself, and so it has proven.

He’s got that lovely high thread-count, never-go-bald floppy hair and that is always worth some love. He’s played on the left wing for 97 games and done well there, but it’s as a centre forward where he’s scored most of his goals. That said, he isn’t a traditional number 9 by any means, often dropping deep in order to run at a defence, as well as playing on the shoulder to lose his marker. He’s a fiercely intelligent player and has dealt superbly with the traditional Scottish hairy-arsed central defenders trying to boot him up into the air.

As with all great footballers, no matter what position they play, it is seeing the play two or three moves ahead that gives them their advantage. And this is what our man does so well. He’s never going to be able to physically compete, so he doesn’t even try. He’s all skill and vision.

In this he actually reminds me a little of Pat Nevin, in the same way Mitoma does, in that he makes up for his lack of physical presence with tremendous close ball control, excellent running off the ball and with a bag of tricks that often bamboozles leaden-footed defenders.

Defenders talk about how hard he is to track, often not being involved for a while, only to be in the right place at the right time and you can see this all the time in his reels. Time and again, he’s running alongside his marker, stops, the marker charges on while changes direction to run into the space that has opened up, is found by a team-mate and scores what superficially seems to be an easy goal.

The usual English critics will suggest that this is easy in what they consider to be a pub league, but nothing could be further from the truth. While the Premiership economics dictates it is always going to be a two-horse race, what its critics fail to see is how competitive the games often are. Celtic usually dominate possession but have to break through packed defences. Furuhashi has been superb in that context, often biting into tackles, robbing the ball and kickstarting a transition, as well as being in position to score plenty of goals.

His game has got everything you need to be a top striker and I’d wager those who don’t watch Scottish football will be shocked by just how good he really is. Valued by Transfermarkt at just €9million for some reason, multiply that by five and we can start talking.

Read more: Hail, hail Ange Postecoglou – the anti-Howe who transformed Celtic in a season


Two great moments

Nifty wee backheel ahoy!

Watch how he loses his marker to get a tap in…


Future days?
He’s under contract until 2025 but I’m sure Celtic know that they won’t be able to keep him if one of the Premier League moneybags teams comes in for him and there are rumours that Crystal Palace are at the front of the queue, though the proposed £15 million fee is way too low and reflects the anti-Scottish bias that runs through the English game. I can’t prove this but if he played in almost any other country, he’d be valued far higher. However, a better move would be to Brighton. They play the sort of smooth, passing game at pace that he enjoys at Celtic.

Someone seems to have told Daniel Levy that there’s this country up north where they also play football and he is apparently interested in Ange. However, the Aussie is a big, powerful character and wouldn’t take any sh*t off Levy, which may scare the Spurs man off, having already been made to cry by Antonio Conte.

Now aged 28, Furuhashi’s next move will be the biggest of his career and realistically it probably has to happen this summer. Wherever he ends up, the club is getting a thrilling player who will royally entertain.