The best is yet to come from Reo Hatate in a Celtic shirt

Reo Hatate arrived at Celtic in January like a man on a mission, and a thunderbolt strike at Tynecastle alongside a double in a February ‘skelping of theRangers at Celtic Park introduced the Celtic Park faithful to a player they immediately embraced.

Hatate never quite hit the consistent levels of that blistering start in the remaining months, however self-admitted issues surrounding mental and physical fatigue evidently played a part. Yet in fits and starts the natural ability of Reo Hatate remained in evidence.

Passing at times was wayward, positional awareness could be questioned, but much of that could also be put down to having completed a J-League season with former club Kawasaki Frontale before also having to contend with the incessant business end of Celtic’s league campaign.

The thought however of a rested, recuperated and reinvigorated Reo Hatate ahead of next season is a mouth-watering prospect for Celtic and will be the cause of sleepless nights for our domestic rival’s next season.

And Hatate speaking to Number Web has given an insight on the tactical instruction Celtic Japanese midfielder is expected to follow from manager Ange Postecoglou, and for a player who is willing to put the defensive hard yards in as well as performing on the front foot, it appears the message for Postecoglou is attack is the best form of defence.

“If the coach asked me to play full-back, I would do it because I want to play. But I think midfield is where I can show my strength in both offense and defence. I am happy to play in this position.

“The coach tells me to play as close to the forward as possible, as close to the goal as possible, and I am expected to score as well. That has definitely led to results. What I am conscious of now is to look for a position where I can be free.

“I am always conscious of looking for teammates, enemies, and space. Celtic’s soccer is aggressive, and in that respect, it is similar to Frontale. Frontale had many great players in this position, so I learned a lot, and that has led me to where I am now. I really feel that way.”

Hatate has always come across as someone who is keen to learn, wants to develop and has a healthy dose of critical self-analysis when it comes to his on-field performances.

Celtic got a glimpse of what Reo Hatate was capable of last season, but you get the impression the player himself was frustrated at times with his own performances. And given the amount of football he’d played over an 18-month period it’s entirely reasonable to consider, where the mind may have instructed, fatigue meant the body couldn’t quite follow orders.

While as Celtic fans we all await the news of new signings and a further strengthening of Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic rebuild, it may also be wort considering that in the shape of the likes of Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda and Matt O Riley, those signings who arrived in January – and who all made an excellent first impression – may just be getting started around here.

Niall J

About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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