Celtic have enjoyed a stunning recruitment record in recent times, having secured a raft of top-class talent on the cheap who have since gone on to become key figures in manager Ange Postecoglou’s side.
One of the most astute captures that chief executive Michael Nicholson has made over the past year or so has been that of Reo Hatate, with the diminutive midfielder having been signed for just £1.4m from Kawasaki Frontale in January.
Part of a triple J-League swoop alongside compatriots Daizen Maeda and Yosuke Ideguchi, the 24-year-old took little time to settle following his arrival in the winter window, scoring four goals and laying on three assists in 21 games in all competitions during the second half of last term.
That tally included a brace on his Old Firm derby debut back in February, with that stunning display quickly endearing him to the Parkhead faithful.
Following that outing, pundit Gabby Agbonlahor suggested that the one-cap gem would have already “tripled in value”, with the playmaker’s price tag likely to have only risen further having continued to thrive since then.
The 5 foot 8 “baller” – as described by journalist Stephen McIlkenny – has particularly caught the eye in this season’s Champions League journey thus far, playing a crucial hand in the Hoops’ early goal in the recent 1-1 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk.
Prior to that, the £2.25m-rated ace had sparkled in the defeat to holders Real Madrid on home soil, with Football Scotland reporter Euan Robertson writing that he ‘didn’t look out of place’ up against the likes of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos in the centre of the park.
The £14.5k-per-week man has impressed with both his silky quality in possession as well as his willingness to make an impact in the final third, having already laid on two assists in just six games so far this term.
Such standout form has seen him lauded as “one of the biggest bargains in football” by journalist Will Lancaster, who also made the suggestion that Hatate could command an asking price of around £25m at present.
While Nicholson and co won’t be looking to cash in on the dynamic asset any time soon, such a statement seemingly reflects what a remarkable piece of business it was to bring him to the club for such a small fee.