NEW Bhoy Tomoki Iwata is poised to make his first appearance when Celtic play Kilmarnock at Parkhead this afternoon.
The J-League Player of the Year flew into Glasgow last night from Japan following his initial loan deal from Yokohama F Marinos which will become permanent in the summer when a five-year contract kicks in.
Ange Postecoglou is delighted to welcome his sixth signing from the Far East who joins countrymen Kyogo Furuhashi, Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda, Yosuke Ideguchi and Yuki Kobayashi at the champions.
The 25-year-old defensive midfielder is well-known to the Hoops boss, of course, who was his head coach at the Yokohama outfit.
CRUNCH…Celtic new Bhoy Tomaki Iwata in a tussle for possession.
Iwata, who will cost an initial £1million, gets his first taste of Paradise when he takes in the Premiership match against the Rugby Park club who were thrashed 5-0 at their own place earlier in the season.
Postecoglou delivered his take on his third signing of this window following centre-back Kobayashi, from Vissel Kobe, and Alistair Johnston, a £3.5million purchase from CF Montreal, and what the Hoops supporters can expect to see from the international anchorman.
The Greek-Australian gaffer said: “Tomoki will need a bit of work, but knowing the player and the person well, he will be working really hard to be ready as quickly as possible.
“The first thing is getting him in and settled and I’m sure before long he’ll be contributing.
“He’s a really intelligent footballer. He takes in information really well and is very disciplined.”
AWARD WINNER…Tomaki Iwata with the J-League Player of the Year trophy after his superb season at Yokohama F Marinos.
Postecoglou deployed Iwata in a more withdrawn midfield role at their previous club and, speaking to The Scotsman, added: “The way we were playing at the time, with that double six, I felt he could be a really good player.
“In Japan, a lot of teams tend to play on the counter-attack, so I thought he could be a really good extra layer of defensive security for us.
“But he’s also very good on the ball technically and a very powerful runner. I knew that he could play two or three positions.
“Full-back, centre-back and as a six. If you look at his record at Yokohama even after I left, he’s done all those roles really well.”
The Celtic fans are looking forward to seeing the latest signing in action, but, in the meantime, his role at Parkhead today will be to watch his new team as they attempt to extend their lead at the Premiership pinnacle to 12 points.
* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report from Celtic v Kilmarnock this afternoon – only in your champion CQN.