YUKI KOBAYASHI has signed a five-year deal and will join Celtic next month and will be able to play as soon as the January 2023 transfer window opens.
The 22-year-old central defender will reunite with his former Vissel Kobe team-mate Kyogo Furuhashi at the champions.
Kobayashi, who had come out of contract at his club, is the fifth player to join Ange Postecoglou’s side from the J-League along with Kyogo, Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi.
The towering centre-back said: “I am so excited to be joining Celtic and I am really looking forward to this wonderful opportunity.
HAPPY BHOY…Yuki Kobayashi is delighted to be joining Celtic from Vissel Kobe.
“I will be giving everything to try and be successful with the club.
“Right across the world, everyone knows what a special club Celtic is and it will be a real honour to wear this fantastic jersey.
“The work of Ange Postecoglou is also really well-known in Japan after he had such a great time in the J-League and, as well as being part of Celtic, I can’t wait to work with him as a coach and the great team of players he has already developed.”
The new Bhoy, speaking to the club website, continued: “I know that Celtic over so many years has such a brilliant track record of success and I now want to play my part in bringing more great moments to the club and our fans.
“I would like to thank Vissel Kobe sincerely for all the support that has been given to me in the early part of my career and now I look forward to embracing this exciting new challenge with Celtic, one of the world’s great football clubs.”
RELENTLESS…Ange Postecoglou doesn’t stop as he continues to strengthen his Celtic squad.
Postecoglou added: “We’re really pleased. Yuki is someone that we’ve been following for a while and it was a great opportunity to bring him in. He’s a left-sided centre-back and they’re hard to find.
“He’s still young, but he’s already had three of four years of senior experience and he’s really keen to come across and test himself in Europe.
“I think we saw last year that bringing in guys nice and early gives us the opportunity to bed them in, in that six-month period of the second half of the season, and we’re really looking forward to having him as part of the group.
“He’s a good young man who wants to have a real crack at it here in Europe and for us it’s a great opportunity to invest in a young player again.”
Postecoglou brought in German stopper Moritz Jenz from French club Lorient on a season-long loan in the summer to strengthen the middle of the rearguard and provide competition to Cameron Carter-Vickers, Carl Starfelt and Stephen Welsh.
Kobayashi will add his qualities to the back four for the crucial second half of the campaign with the Hoops hoping to go one better than last season and add the Scottish Cup to the Premiership title and League Cup that was won in Postecoglou’s debut term.