Scottish champions Celtic currently have a few representatives at the ongoing World Cup, with the likes of Aaron Mooy, Josip Juranovic, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Daizen Maeda all having been selected by their respective national sides.
The latter man was something of a surprise pick as the only member of the Hoops’ Japanese contingent to be included on the plane to Qatar, with both Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate having been notable omissions from Hajime Moriyasu’s squad.
Hatate, in particular, can seemingly count himself unlucky amid his sparkling form at Parkhead in recent times, with the 25-year-old having emerged as a leading asset for manager Ange Postecoglou since his January arrival.
The former Kawasaki Frontale man – who scored 12 goals and laid on ten assists during his time in his homeland – has been on the periphery of the international fold in his career thus far, having been afforded just a solitary cap at senior level to date.
Despite that inexperience for his country, the diminutive ace seemingly could well have made a difference had he been part of the World Cup list, having been simply “tremendous” during his time in Glasgow to date, in the words of pundit Frank McAvennie.
Dubbed the “best signing” made by Postecoglou in his tenure thus far – as per McAvennie – the £12k-per-week maestro has scored six times and laid on seven assists in 41 games in all competitions for the Bhoys to date, notably producing two assists in the comeback win over Ross County last time out prior to this current halt to proceedings.
The 5 foot 8 ace has perhaps shown Japan just what they are missing having also gone on to impress during the Sydney Super Cup clash with Everton, with journalist Sacha Pisani having dubbed him a “beast in midfield” following that display.
Pisani also commented on Hatate’s World Cup snub, suggesting that the player could well go on to become the “heart of that team moving forward“, while the aforementioned McAvennie suggested that the Asian nation must have “one hell of a midfield” if they are to able to leave the Hoops ace out the side.
In his absence, Moriyasu’s side went on to stun 2014 champions Germany late on in their opening group game, although were brought crashing back down to earth after slipping up against Costa Rica on matchday two.
Following that dismal showing, journalist Josh Bunting expressed his belief that Hatate could well have made a real difference had he been selected, stating: “baffles me that Reo Hatate isn’t in that squad to break the lines.”
Bunting had also suggested that it was “insane” that the Suzuka-born ace had been left out of the travelling party to begin with, with such a decision potentially set to prove costly as far as Japan are concerned if they are unable to secure progression.
As for Celtic, the Scottish Premiership side will likely be thankful that the player has been able to enjoy a well-earned rest after putting in an “enormous shift” in recent months – according to Postecoglou – with Hatate likely to be chomping at the bit to show his quality once again when club action resumes next month.