When learning that another Japanese playmaker was heading to Parkhead during the summer of 2021, Celtic supporters would have allowed themselves to dream of another Shunsuke Nakamura being unearthed.
Kyogo Furuhashi still has some way to go before he can claim to enjoy the same level of affection among Hoops followers as a fellow countryman who once graced Glasgow with distinction, but he is heading down the right path.
He has been a revelation during a debut campaign in Scottish football, helping Celtic to keep pace with Old Firm rivals Rangers in a race for Premiership title glory that has football bets from Space Casino pricing the Bhoys at 73/50 to emerge victorious.
Ange Postecoglou’s side are going to need more of the same over the coming weeks in order to topple arch-rivals from the loftiest of perches, while a continental adventure is still being taken in across Europa Conference League competition.
Kyogo already has one piece of silverware to his name, having bagged a match-winning brace in a 2-1 League Cup final victory over Hibernian, while five goals from nine games in Europe is some return for a rookie performer at that level.
— Kyogo Furuhashi 古橋 亨梧 (@Kyogo_Furuhashi) December 19, 2021
So impressive has the talented forward been that he is now in a position where he should sail past some of the numbers posted by iconic compatriots that have gone before him. It would be unfair to compare him directly with Nakamura as they are entirely different players, but there are other benchmarks to be found.
Keisuke Honda is one of the more distinguished Japanese stars to have graced European football in recent times, with the classy midfielder good enough to have spent time with CSKA Moscow and AC Milan. He was more of a creator than a finisher, but did once hit 16 goals in a single campaign for Dutch side VVV-Venlo.
His former international team-mate, Shinji Kagawa, went one better during the 2011-12 campaign at Borussia Dortmund, with 17 efforts recorded for Bundesliga heavyweights. Those exploits earned him a move to Manchester United, where a once promising career started to unravel.
Another Japanese star to have spent time in England is Shinji Okazaki, who linked up with Leicester in 2015. He only found the target on 19 occasions in total across four years with the Foxes, but did claim a Premier League title. It was during a stint at Mainz in Germany that he was at his most prolific, hitting 15 and 14 goals apiece in back-to-back seasons.
— Celtic Football Club (@CelticFC) December 20, 2021
Kyogo passed that mark with his deadly double against Hibs on December 19 and would appear to still have plenty more left in the tank. He is only one strike away from matching Kagawa’s return at Dortmund and should break through the 20-goal barrier if untimely setbacks can be avoided.
He was laid low on Boxing Day when aggravating a hamstring injury in a meeting with St Johnstone, but is well down the road to recovery and can expect to slot straight back into Postecoglou’s plans – potentially alongside the familiar faces of Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate following their January moves to Scotland.