The Scottish Premiership has long been heralded as a one-horse race since the demotion of Rangers. Their Old Firm rivals Celtic won nine straight titles starting in 2012 before Steven Gerrard’s team finally halted that express in a show of brutal dominance over the league last season.Kyogo Furuhashi was a little known player outside of Scotland before his arrival but what he has already done since his arrival has made everyone take notice.
The 26-year-old attacker has been a prolific goal getter since his ascent with FC Gifu in the J2 League. He netted 18 times over two seasons from 68 appearances which was enough to convince Vissel Kobe to bring him in. Boasting the likes of Andres Iniesta and Lukas Podolski, the four years he would spend here would come to attract attention from abroad.
Furuhashi was instrumental in Vissel’s triumph in the 2019 Emperor Cup and the 2020 Japanese Super Cup. He was a consistent scorer with 42 goals and 16 assists during his time. Furthermore, it was his threat from the advanced areas that made him such an all-round danger. After a subdued debut year in 2018, the following three campaigns saw him take 78, 70, and 82 shots respectively.
More than one-thirds of these ended up on target with 3-4 shots P90. Those are some solid numbers for a player who does not operate as the furthest man in the team. Furthermore, he has averaged more than 50 crosses every year in his final three years at Japan which showcase how gets into good positions.
However, it is not only his goal scoring abilities that have earned him rave reviews. His passing and ability to set up chances has been equally pivotal.
Furuhashi has a passing accuracy of 70-80% including completing more than half of his dribbles during his time at Vissel. Moreover, he is also an adept dribbler as evidenced by his completion of more than 60%. All these highlight just how dangerous he can be with the ball at his feet and why he commands so much attention.
He drew 88 fouls in four years and won 82 of his tackles during the same time. Furuhashi’s vision and intelligent movement makes it difficult for his markers to understand what is about to happen next. At Vissel, he was part of a two-man strike team and that helped him reap the rewards. He maneuvers spaces smartly which helps his teammates make runs in behind him.
Furthermore, he has significant pace himself to beat his man one-on-one if the chance presents itself. Furuhashi’s consistent performances brought him to the attention of Celtic who were in search of some much needed firepower themselves. The new signing has every chance of emulating another Japanese legend who became a household name at the club.
Shunsuke Nakamura is the most famous Asian player to have played in the Premiership and his records speak for themselves. Three league and cup doubles, Player of the Year, Ballon D’Or nomination in 2007, the first Japanese player to score in the Champions League and of course, some absolutely scintillating scoring moments.
Furuhashi’s start to life at Celtic Park has been equally talismanic. After a quiet 11 minutes debut against Hearts, Furuhashi has scored five goals over the next four games. The absolute standout amongst them was the hat-trick against Dundee FC at home in 70 minutes. That was just the second of his career with the first coming in… June! The strikes showcased his wide range of skills and the fact that it came in front of fans instantly cemented his status.
Postecoglou plays Furuhashi centrally in his three-man attack but the player’s movements have come from all across the field. He has the propensity to drift towards the wings which allows him to pick up the ball and look for teammates. Furuhashi has completed 61% of his dribbles over the three league games as well given how he charges at defenders.
He netted the winning goal against Hearts in the League Cup yesterday which will only enhance his reputation. Celtic are determined to wrest back the league crown from Rangers and there is no doubt that Furuhashi will become a pivotal member in that quest.