Celtic legend Chris Sutton has knows that Celtic must keep their star players if they are to make a dent in the Champions League next season – starting with Japanese hero Reo Hatate.
The Hoops signed Hatate from Kawasaki Frontale last January, and he instantly etched himself into Hoops folklore with a stunning strike at Hearts before a double against their bitter light blue neighbours under the lights at Celtic Park to edge ahead in the title race.
Hatate, alongside key performers such as Cameron Carter-Vickers, Callum McGregor and Kyogo, has been one of the Hoops’ most reliable men with a treble looking extremely likely to find its way to Parkhead for the fifth time in seven seasons.
It’s quite a remarkable haul at any level of football, and the title win means that Celtic will be thrust straight into the Champions League group stages for the second time in a row, although they must produce a better outing than last time if they are to progress as a club under Ange Postecoglou.
And, according to Sutton’s column in the Daily Record, they must keep the tenacious midfielder if they are to earn that success on the continent, even if it appears unlikely that the club will pick up their second ‘European Cup’ – alongside keeping Postecoglou in the hot seat. Sutton told the Daily Record:
It will be interesting in the summer with Ange Postecoglou talking about the prospect of some of the bigger players being sold and others coming in. It’s been pretty seamless so far in terms of players coming in but at some point you might hit the buffers. It’s about what happens next. For me, it’s about the Champions League and whether Celtic can compete.
First of all they need to hold on to the manager, which is really one to watch as he’ll be sought after and courted. You want Ange Postecoglou to stay and he’ll be even more determined to make his mark in Europe. It will be interesting in terms of who comes and goes.
I think Reo Hatate is irreplaceable, in the way Celtic play. They won’t have the to get players up to speed as the Champions League still comes around pretty quickly.”
Celtic crashed out of the group stages in agonising fashion last year, with RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk giving them a tough time as the Hoops settled for rock-bottom in Group F.