Celtic ace Daizen Maeda confirms loan switch will become permanent this summer

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DAIZEN MAEDA has confirmed his loan move to Celtic will become permanent next season.

The striker joined the Hoops in January from Yokohama in a £2m move.

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Celtic star Daizen Maeda

Maeda says he is looking forward to signing a long-term contract with the Parkhead side after helping them win the Premiership title effectively.

But the 24-year-old is desperate to get his feet up after playing non-stop for the past 18 months.

Maeda said: “I am happy here. But I can’t wait to rest.

“I have been playing since the start of last season in Japan.

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“I will have to take enough rest to be ready to start again next season. I want to be at my best next season. »

Maeda admits there has been little to separate the Old Firm this season.

But the Japanese striker believes Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou could be the difference maker.

The Hoops effectively sealed the Premiership title with two games to spare on Saturday with an emphatic 4-1 win over Hearts.

Maeda opened the scoring as Celtic extended their incredible unbeaten league run to 30 matches.

Yes, Rangers have conquered everything before them in Europe, but it is their rivals who have been the most consistent at home.

Maeda has played a crucial role since joining Parkhead from Yokohama and scored eight goals after his January switch.

Compatriots Kyogo and Reo Hatate also played their part.

However, Maeda feels it is their manager Postecoglou who deserves the most credit.

He said: “Having the victory is very important. We got the result we needed and it’s a nice feeling.

“I know that last year Celtic couldn’t win the title.

“That’s why when I came here, I absolutely wanted to give everything to get a result for the team. I’m happy with how the move went.

“There is not a big difference between Celtic and Rangers, both teams are playing at a good level.

“But our manager brought us a good attitude. He made us think the right way.

It was Postecoglou who brought the Japanese trio to Scotland, with Kyogo leading the way in July ahead of their international teammates arriving in mid-winter.

All three have been away for almost 18 months, having had no breaks due to the season schedule in their home countries.

And although they were instrumental in Celtic regaining their Premiership crown, Maeda firmly believes they will be even better next season. He said: “It’s nice to be with my compatriots of course.

“But we have to focus on football above all else.

“As for next season, we would like to play here as Japanese players together and continue to get stronger and better over a full season.”

There was no silverware when the game ended on Saturday, but the celebrations and a lap at the end told you it was done and dusted.

Barring an act of God, Celtic will receive the SPFL Premiership trophy on Saturday after their final game of the campaign against Motherwell.

Maeda relishes the opportunity to share the moment with 60,000 fans at Parkhead.

But despite the team’s points advantage and huge goal difference over Rangers, he refused to start celebrating just yet.

He said: “Next week, as always, we hope we can share the happiness we feel with our fans and supporters.

“It wasn’t just against Hearts. Celtic fans are always like that for us and I’m really happy to be here to play in this incredible atmosphere. It makes me happy.

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“The weather has even improved recently and it feels very comfortable living here now, I like it!

“But we don’t have the league title yet, so I will only think about it when everything is settled.”

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