Rodgers on Reo – “It was a challenging summer for him”

Brendan Rodgers was close to his new Celtic players this pre-season and has openly admitted that Japanese international, Reo Hatate, was affected by the transfer speculation surrounding him. The vacuum that had been created led to consistent gossip in the media about how Hatate would not sign a new deal with the club for the time being and that Brighton – amongst others – were looking at the midfielder.

Celtic’s midfielder Reo Hatate during a friendly football match between Japan’s Gamba Osaka and  Celtic at Suita City Stadium in the city of Suita, Osaka prefecture on July 22, 2023. (Photo by PAUL MILLER/AFP via Getty Images)

It was a long summer transfer window for the supporters too in that regard when it comes to Reo; we all had to sit with very little inside information of what the player’s plans were and if it was a real possibility we could lose another significant piece of our latest Treble-winning team.

The loss of Jota earlier in the window out us all on red alert for the vultures circling once again to pick our team to nothing as has been done several times in the past few years.

When news broke that Reo had informed the club that he wishes to wait to the end of the window until talks were to recommend on a new and improved Celtic contract, it’s safe to say more than a few of the supporters were on tenterhooks the closer we got to deadline day. The fear that a last-minute bid would come from down south or some other top five league had us all sweating in case that late scramble for a replacement happened once more.

Celtic v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Pre Season Friendly – Aviva Stadium Wolverhampton Wanderers Mario Lemina and Celtics Reo Hatate during the pre-season friendly match at the Aviva Stadium, Saturday July 29, 2023. Photo Brian Lawless.

Thankfully for the Hoops masses, it didn’t come to pass and now as The Celtic Star reported yesterday, talks have reconvened to tie down Reo on improved terms and protect his value to the club. On Reo and his pretty disruptive close-season, the manager said: “He’ll play before Tuesday. Whether he starts or not depends. It was a challenging summer for him. Having seen him close up I know it was difficult.

“He’s over that now. It’s just a shame he got injured when he did, but his response to get back has been fantastic. I’ve had a good couple of chats with him. He knows the demands and where we are at – he’s a top class player. It’s about managing him back into it. It will settle down. The window is difficult for player but things settle down once it’s closed.”

It will be a great relief when Reo does eventually put his name to paper and extends his current stay with Celtic, if for nothing else than to give us peace of mind in terms of his value and making certain we will get top dollar for him when he does eventually depart Celtic Park. In the meantime though, we will need his vision, craft and energy in that midfield to help us really kick on and breathe life into our season.

Paul Gillespie

About Author

I'm a Garngad Bhoy through and through. My first ever Celtic game was a friendly against Italian side Parma at Celtic Park, in 2002. Currently a student of English Literature and Education at the University of Strathclyde for my sins. Favourite game would be a toss up between beating Manchester United with that Naka freekick, or the game against the Oldco when Hesselink scored in the dying seconds. I'm still convinced Cal Mac is wasted playing that far back.

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