Why a fully-fit Reo Hatate is vital for Celtic in the Champions League

Brendan Rodgers has confirmed that Nat Phillips and Reo Hatate are nearing full fitness with both having been involved in training this past week.

Reo Hatate has only been seen twice so far this season with both appearances coming from the bench against Ross County and Aberdeen respectively.

The early rumours were that Rodgers didn’t seem to favour the Japanese interntional, but Hatate’s return from injury provides a welcome boost to the Celtic midfield, especially with the Champions League campaign coming up and the club needing real quality players to step up and shine in those fixtures.

Here are a few reasons why Hatate should go straight back into the starting XI:

Provides more energy

One thing that has stood out from Celtic’s midfield has been a lack of energy. It was surprisingly clear against Aberdeen and Kilmarnock in particular that the Celtic midfield could be overrun with ease when David Turnbull was part of the team, and that was when the team was being pressed by a lesser opposition. In those games, the moment where the Celtic midfield looked the most stable was the brief period where Reo Hatate was on the park at Pittodrie.

If Aberdeen and Kilmarnock can overrun that Celtic midfield, then what can the likes of Atletico Madrid and Feyenoord do? That’s why it’s important that Reo Hatate is fit for those fixtures, as his high energy and relentless pressing off the ball are vital to Celtic retaining play or troubling opponents when they probe and attack.


Another noticeable factor in those aforementioned games was the lack of creativity in the midfield, with a killer ball into Kyogo or a ball over the top to release Daizen Maeda and Liel Abada seriously lacking.

This led to a rare spell where Celtic went two games without scoring a goal. More worryingly, they never really looked like threatening, especially in the 1-0 defeat to Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

Hatate’s absence was incredibly noticeable, and with him being one of Celtic’s most creative players last season with 11 assists, there are no doubts that he would have made a difference.

In the games where chances are proving to be at a premium, having someone in the team who is more adventurous with his passing – like Hatate – could prove to make all the difference.



Proven quality

The final reason why having a fully-fit Reo Hatate is a must for Celtic in the Champions League is that Hatate’s quality is well-known. He has an eye for the unexpected and is the sort of flashy player who will take the risks required to kill off these bigger sides in Europe.

Hatate was also one of the players in last season’s Celtic squad who stepped up and raised their game for the challenges of Real Madrid,when he was a stand-out in the first-half at Celtic Park; Shakhtar Donetsk, where he performed well in the away leg; and against RB Leipzig, where he played a big role in Jota’s goal away from home, as he provided the pass that turned defence into attack and sent Kyogo on his way.


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