ANGE POSTECOGLOU is lining up Japanese defender Yuki Kobayashi as his first Celtic signing of 2023.

The 22-year-old left-sided back-four operator will become the Hoops boss’ FIFTH signing from the J-League, according to media reports in his homeland.

Kyogo Furuhashi was one of Postecoglou’s first signings for the club when he arrived in a £4.6million swoop on Vissel Kobe in July last year.

Daizen Maeda, Reo Hatate and Yosuke Ideguchi joined on Hogmanay and were officially unveiled on January 1.

ON THE MOVE…Vissel Kobe centre-back Yuki Kobayashi is heading for Celtic in the New Year, according to Japanese media reports.

Now former Under-21 star Kobayashi, a former team-mate of Kyogo at Vissel, is on his way with a transfer fee already agreed between clubs.

Postecoglou has targeted central defence as a priority area which requires strengthening after injuries to stand-in skipper Cameron Carter-Vickers, Carl Starfelt and Stephen Welsh left him thin on the ground as regards replacements.

Moritz Jenz, who signed a season-long loan from French outfit Lorient in the summer, is already racking up the first-team appearances in the absence of Swedish international Starfelt who has missed 12 consecutive games since hirpling off during the 4-0 win over Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Ibrox side at Parkhead on September 3.

Kobayashi “will transfer to Celtic in January next year,” according to Japanese media outlet

It stated: “According to multiple sources, a formal offer has already arrived and an agreement has been reached between the clubs.

PRIZE GUY…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates his goal in Celtic’s 3-0 win at Livingston.

“Kobayashi himself seems to have decided to take on his first overseas challenge and plans to sign a formal contract after undergoing a medical check on site. “He has been attracting attention since he was in Kobe’s academy, and in May 2016, at the age of 15 years and 9 months, he was registered for two top teams.

“He has continued to grow steadily since then and made his top debut in April 2018 at the age of 17 years and 8 months.

“In 2019, he skipped a grade and was selected as the U-21 Japan representative of the Tokyo Olympics generation.

“Known for his precise left foot and build-up ability, this Celtic team are also said to appreciate Kobayashi’s ability and potential.”

Postecoglou has not been slow to hand debuts to his J-League recruits.

WELCOME TO CELTIC…Yosuke Ideguchi, Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate line up at Parkhead after arriving at the beginning of 2022.

Kyogo came on as a late substitute in the opening day of last season’s Premiership programme against Hearts at Tynecastle within 24 hours of touching down in Scotland.

Maeda and Hatate started in the first match after the winter break against Hibs at Parkhead on January 17 while Ideguchi was introduced as a second-half substitute.

Interestingly, the Hoops’ first game of the New Year is scheduled for Ibrox on January 2.

If the Japanese reports are accurate, Kobayashi will be a signed, sealed and delivered Celtic player by that time.


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