Celtic are planning to use reported January transfer target Reo Hatate in midfield.
That’s according to a claim made by the Daily Record’s Mark Pirie, with the journalist suggesting in a recent report that it looks increasingly likely the versatile midfielder – whose move to Parkhead has been reported by several outlets as being all but confirmed – will be used in the middle of the park – as opposed to at left-back, as had been claimed previously.
In his article, Pirie writes: “Hatate can play at left-back and in midfield, but with Greg Taylor returning it looks increasingly likely he will be deployed in the attacking third. A deal for the 24-year-old seems the most likely to be completed ahead of the derby day showdown with Rangers on January 2.”
Considering just how impressive Hatate has been for Kawasaki Frontale this season, should Celtic indeed manage to get a deal over the line for the central midfielder this January, it could well spell the end of one of the Bhoys’ current options in the middle of the park, Nir Bitton.
Indeed, over his over 30 J League appearances, the £720k-rated man scored five goals, provided two assists and created three big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of two shots and making 1.1 key passes per game.
The 24-year-old also impressed in metrics more typical of a central midfielder, making an average of 1.5 interceptions, 1.3 tackles, 51.7 passes and winning 5.3 duels per fixture.
These returns saw the Japan international who journalist Gabriele Anello dubbed “Dirk Kuyt-esque” earn a seasonal SofaScore match rating of 7.16, ranking him as his club’s fifth-best player in the league – with his displays also seeing him receive a place in the J League team of the season.
As such, with Kieran Devlin recently suggesting that Nir Bitton “will be phased out” at Celtic over the next six to 18 months, the potential signing of Hatate very much looks as if it could speed this process up.