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Celtic considering move for Ko Itakura

Ange Postecoglou’s primary concern heading into the new campaign is Celtic’s leaky backline.

The Hoops surrendered their dominance of Scottish football last term by ending proceedings without a single trophy to their name. The main reason for their ineptitude was defensive mistakes.

On the chalkboard

Celtic didn’t struggle to score goals last term with the influence of Odsonne Edouard in Paradise still proving valuable.

The Frenchman bagged 22 goals in all competitions and finished the campaign as the Premiership’s top scorer.

However, at the opposite end of the pitch, Neil Lennon and John Kennedy had no answer to keeping the goals out.

Celtic shipped 16 more strikes than Rangers in the league and conceded a whopping 19 times in the Europa League group stage.

Who would be a better signing for Celtic?

Vuskovic

Vuskovic

Itakura

Itakura

Since then, the Bhoys have been linked with a number of defenders from former employee Erik Sviatchenko to Hajduk Split’s promising centre-half Mario Vuskovic.

The solution

If Postecoglou is looking for a player approaching the prime of his career then he should carefully consider Manchester City’s Ko Itakura, somebody linked with a move to Parkhead this week.

Vuskovic is just 19 years of age and has plenty to learn while Sviatchenko is now 29 and getting slower as he grows older.

Itakura, on the other hand, is developing nicely at the age of 24, that’s despite not having a proper permanent home. The defender was brought to Manchester City in 2019 but is yet to make a single appearance for them.

Instead, the Japan international has enjoyed a productive two-year loan spell with FC Groningen in the Netherlands.

Speaking about his game previously, former Dutch footballer Haans Kray waxed lyrical about the centre-back’s style of play. He said: “One of the very best central defenders in the Eredivisie. He can play football well, he can head well and he is incredibly fast. He’s such a good player but Manchester City don’t see anything in him.”

His speed immediately elevates him above Sviatchenko while the two years of experience he’s gained in European football should place him just on top of Vuskovic too.

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We'll start with an easier one, who is this Celtic academy player?

The Croatian has a particularly high ceiling but Ange Postecoglou already has Liam Shaw and Leo Hjelde from a young perspective that he could blood next season.

With Kristoffer Ajer potentially departing, signing a player at a similar age would make more sense for the Australian.

He’s certainly got the qualities to thrive at the back for Celtic too. Strong in the air, Itakura won 2.1 aerial duels per game last season and was adept at playing the ball.

During 2020/21, the Japanese ace was successful with an impressive 88% of his passes, just 0.2% fewer than Ajer.

Furthermore, he ranks in the 88th percentile from chosen European leagues in terms of his tackle success; 76%.

With that in mind, he’d be a brilliant piece of business from the new manager. He can play out from the back like Ajer, reign supreme in the air and win challenges on a regular basis. Itakura’s pace would also set him apart from others in the Celtic defence.

AND in other news, Bye-bye Edouard: Celtic must sign “dangerous” 22 y/o beast, he’s a “goal machine”…

Article title: Celtic considering move for Ko Itakura

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