To our eternal confusion, when Daizen Maeda got to the World Cup in November, he was used as a striker, a role he only fulfilled at Celtic when there was literally no one else available for the task. It was not madness on the part of manager Hajime Moriyasu, who left the brilliant Kyogo back in Glasgow.
Daizen is not as accomplished a striker as Kyogo, but Japan were in Qatar to play a different way than Celtic, they were prepared to concede possession for long spells, so needed someone who could press defenders at an elite level. There is none better for that role than Daizen.
At 25, I don’t think we have seen the best of him yet. The vast majority of games he plays for Celtic provide little scope for his natural game, as active space is so contained in Celtic’s attacking third. It is perhaps only against Newco, who vainly try to go toe-to-toe with the champions, where he can really turn it on.
His goal at Ibrox in January, when he spooked Tavernier is a perfect example, as was his Scottish Cup semi-final move, when he won a ball he was third closest to, before whipping in an inch-perfect cross for Jota to nod home.
“Another four years” is perhaps a bit misleading. Sure, he’s contracted for that long, but I expect bids for him in 2024 or 2025. His physicality, speed and perpetual motion is made for the dozen-or-so teams that regularly counter-attack in the EPL.
You can imagine the goings-on at Celtic this week. “We’ve all this money, do we need to tell the stock market?” It reminded me of an old Dave Allen joke:
A man sits in a confessional and says, “Father, I’m having an affair with a gorgeous young thing that lives down my street.”
Priest, “That’s not how a good Catholic should live.”
Man, “Oh, I’m not a Catholic.”
Priest, “Well, why are you telling me?”
Man, “I’m telling everybody!”
Football is a hard enough business, if you have a good story to tell, tell it.