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Soccer: Celtic bidding to acquire stars Maeda, Ideguchi, Hatate

This combined photo shows Yokohama F Marinos' Daizen Maeda, left, Gamba Osaka's Yosuke Ideguchi, center, and Reo Hatate of Kawasaki Frontale. (Photo courtesy of J-League/Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Scottish Premier League giants Celtic are in the process of trying to acquire Japanese forward Daizen Maeda, and midfielders Yosuke Ideguchi and Reo Hatate, a source with knowledge of the matter said Saturday.

    Yokohama F Marinos, where the 24-year-old Maeda plays, and Gamba Osaka, the 25-year-old Ideguchi's club, are said to be open to transfer talk out of respect for their players' wishes to play again overseas.

    Maeda was joint top scorer in the J-League first-division, scoring his 23rd goal on Saturday in the J1's final round, while the 24-year-old Hatate, who plays both at left back and in midfield, has been a key contributor to Kawasaki Frontale's J-League championships the past two seasons.

    The source said, however, that Frontale want much more for Hatate than the terms Celtic are prepared to offer. Hatate turned pro in 2019 and has yet to play abroad.

    It is unusual for an overseas club to target three Japanese players, but Celtic's current manager, Australian Ange Postecoglou, managed Marinos for 3-1/2 seasons until leaving for the Glasgow club in June.

    This summer, Celtic acquired Vissel Kobe's Kyogo Furuhashi, who had eight goals in 12 league games for Celtic through Thursday.

    Celtic, where midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura, currently with Yokohama FC, was a fan favorite, have been Scotland's champions 51 times and are currently second in the league.

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