JOHN HARTSON admits he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the first player to arrive at Celtic in the January sales is Japanese striker Daizen Maeda.

The pacy J-League hitman is a player well known to boss Ange Postecoglou who signed him for Yokahama F Marinos and is now back on the Greek-Australian’ s radar, as CQN reported last month.

The Hoops boss will be without Georgis Giakoumakis for this evening’s Premier Sports League Cup semi-final against St Johnstone at Hampden with the £2.5million summer recruit from Dutch outfit VVV-Venlo sidelined after sustaining a knee injury in the 4-2 win over Dundee at Dens Park before the international break.

NET PROFIT…the J-League’s top marksman Daizen Maeda has been linked with Celtic. 

That has left the Parkhead gaffer short of attacking options against the Perth club with Maeda’s countryman Kyogo Furuhashi leading the frontline with only misfiring Swiss forward Albian Ajeti, with a mere nine goals since his £5million arrival from West Ham last summer, as back-up.

Postecoglou has already stated he knows the areas in his squad that require strengthening in the next transfer window and Hartson is convinced that will spur on the gaffer to land Maeda who is the leading scorer in Japan’s top flight with 21 goals.

With the market opening in 41 days’ time, the Hoops striking legend said: “Celtic will have recruitment people looking all over.

“They will be getting DVDs and videos and from scouts every single day. They’ll be looking at different players.

“They have to be because Celtic, being the global club that it is, have to be aware of what’s out there.

RISE AND SHINE…Kyogo Furuhashi heads in his first of two goals in the 4-2 win over Dundee at Dens Park.

“There’s talk about another Japanese striker  (Maeda) coming in. I wouldn’t be surprised if they got that one over the line in January.”

Kyogo cost £4.6million when he was recruited from Vessel Kobe in late July, but has already proved to be value for money with 13 strikes this season, despite being forced to miss five games in September after being injured on World Cup duty.

Maeda, two years younger than his compatriot at the age of 24, is likely to cost around £5million, a fee which is hardly likely to scare off Postecoglou as he continues his squad rebuild.

* DON’T miss the unbeatable match report and action images from Celtic v St Johnstone at Hampden this evening – only in your champion CQN.


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