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Rodgers decides to offload Postecoglou’s January signing

Brendan Rodgers has decided to ditch Yuki Kobayashi with clubs in Japan alerted over his availability.

The defender joined Celtic in January as a free agent after his contract at Vissel Kobe expired. At the time it seemed strange that Vissel had allowed the contract of a 22-year-old to run out, 18 months earlier they had picked up a £4m fee from Celtic for Kyogo Furuhashi.

Kobayashi stood in for Cameron Carter-Vickers six times last season, playing on the left side of the central defence which allowed Carl Starfelt to play on his preferred role on the right.

His last two competitive appearances were in the 3-0 and 4-2 defeats at Ibrox and Easter Road, after that Tomoki Iwata dropped into defence to partner Starfelt. Kobayashi didn’t make it onto the bench for the Scottish Cup Final.

After attending the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden on April 30 Rodgers kept a closer eye on the remaining matches of the season, not many of the fringe players advanced their cases as Celtic crashed to two defeats and a draw in the four matches following the title clincher at Tynecastle.

With the squad back for pre-season training on July 3 the Irishman has had a closer chance to assess the squad and has decided that Kobayashi won’t feature in the season ahead.

Back on November, 23 after signing, Kobayashi told the Celtic website: “I am so excited to be joining Celtic and I am really looking forward to this wonderful opportunity.

“I will be giving everything to try and be successful with the Club. Right across the world, everyone knows what a special club Celtic is and it will be a real honour to wear this fantastic jersey.

The work of Ange Postecoglou is also really well-known in Japan after he had such a great time in the J League, and as well as being part of Celtic I can’t wait to work with him as a coach and the great team of players he has already developed.”

Strangely there was no comment from Postecoglou on the signing although there is no suggestion that the transfer was instigated by anyone other than the manager.

After taking part in the December training camp in Portugal Kobayashi was on the bench for a few matches at the turn of the year then made his debut at home to St Mirren on January 18 while Carter-Vickers was out injured.

At that time Celtic cancelled the loan signing of Moritz Jenz who moved on loan to Schalke before his summer switch to Wolfsburg.

Kobayashi started alongside Starfelt today against Yokohama F Marinos but came off injured on the hour mark having turned his ankle a few minutes earlier.

Like Yosuke Ideguchi it seems like Kobayashi just doesn’t have the physical attributes to cope with the Scottish game but in the first year of a five year contract it looks likely that he will have to be loaned back to the J-League in the hope of attracting a buyer.

After the training camp in the Algarve Rodgers spoke about trimming his squad with Albian Ajeti, Ismaila Soro, Liam Shaw, Osaze Urhoghide and James McCarthy missing from the squad in Japan.

Ajeti and Soro have a year left on their contracts while the other three are on deals that run until June 2025.

Others such as Liam Scales, Alexandro Bernabei and Mikey Johnston could be moved on this window while the paperwork is cleared to bring in Kwon Hyeok-kyu and Yang Hyun-Jun from the K-League.

Celtic have three more friendly matches before the SPFL opener against Ross County on August 5 starting on Saturday when they take on Gamba Osaka who are sitting in 13th place in the 18 team J-League.

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