Celtic are currently blessed with a number of exciting young talents in the academy set-up at present, with promising midfielder Rocco Vata one such prospect who is currently catching the eye at Parkhead.
The highly-rated 17-year-old – who is the son of former Hoops defender Rudi Vata – has notably impressed for the club’s ‘B’ team of late, scoring four goals and laying on one assist in just 11 games so far this season.
That comes after the teenager had been one of a handful of emerging youngsters included in Ange Postecoglou’s travelling party for the trip to Austria during pre-season, having also been included in first-team training with the Old Firm giants last term.
While a competitive senior appearance has thus far eluded him, the playmaker is seemingly a player destined for big things in the coming years, having been lauded by coach Darren O’Dea back in February, who stated:
“I’ve known Rocco for a while, naturally I’ve been with the 18s for the last two seasons so he’s someone I know really well. He was in the school programme and is someone I’ve brought up with the 18s and played in a couple of games. The most impressive thing about him is probably his mentality, his attitude to the game.
“We had a pre-season friendly this year that didn’t go particularly well but he’s someone that has a killer attitude that never stops, he has a fantastic ability to beat people and create chances.
“On top of that he’s someone who has a really strong mind so he’s someone who’s very young and needs to be managed well. But he’s going in the right direction, it’s a case of supporting him.
“I’m confident to say that if he reaches his full potential which is our goal as a staff to do that, that potential could take him to the top, to be fair.”
On the international stage, the creative gem is also part of a young group of Republic of Ireland stars who “can do something special” in the words of football talent scout Jacek Kulig, having qualified for the country through his Dublin-born grandmother, after being born in Scotland.
Such is his outstanding quality, the dynamic sensation – who was also included in Kulig’s top 40 talents in world football born in 2005 – has also earned comparisons to former World Cup Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez, as a result of his ‘dribbling and flair’, in the words of talent scout Jake McGhee.
From a Celtic perspective, however, the hope will be that young Vata could prove to be the potential heir of another playmaker in the form of Tom Rogic, with the Australian magician having only recently left Glasgow after nine years of brilliant service to the club.
The 29-year-old – who has since joined West Bromwich Albion – overcame an injury-plagued start to life in Scotland to become a vital asset under a succession of managers, scoring 46 goals and providing 49 assists in 272 games in all competitions.
That haul included an impressive 2021/22 campaign in which the 53-cap gem proved integral to the title success under Postecoglou, providing six goals and laying on ten assists in all competitions to bow out on a high.
While Matt O’Riley has seemingly helped to fill that void with five assists in just eight league games already this season, there could well be room for another exciting asset such as Vata to add an even greater creative touch.