Ange Postecoglou talks Celtic's strategy as cash-rich teams show interest in Rocco Vata

By John McGinley

October 21, 2022

Ange Postecoglou was asked about the pathway from Celtic’s youth team into the senior set-up today in the wake of reports that teams from bigger leagues are showing interest in Rocca Vata.

Vata is considered to be one of the top prospects coming through the academy and B team right now, a fact that has not escaped the attention of cash-rich teams in other countries.

As we discussed yesterday, Italian outlet TuttoMercatoWeb reported that Juventus, AC Milan, Roma, Arsenal and Manchester City were all showing interest in the teenage attacker.

Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The interest feels credible, partly because Celtic haven’t exactly had a good time of it with retaining top talents in recent years. Liam Morrison moved to Bayern Munich, Ben Doak to Liverpool and Josh Adam to Manchester City. They weren’t the only ones, either.

Referencing all of this context in a question put to Postecoglou in his press conference today, The Cynic sought the manager’s thoughts on the current situation for Celtic’s youths.

Postecoglou said [Celtic YouTube]: “I think with all these things, it’s about having a strategy in place. Our B team this year, we’re really happy with the progress of a number of players there. Stephen McManus and Darren O’Dea are doing a great job. I’m obviously closely linked with them and following their progress. All we can do is provide that pathway.

“I know you say we’ve lost a few, but we’ve got Tony Ralston, Callum McGregor and James Forrest who are living, breathing examples of if you stay at this football club, you can have a pretty good career. It’s not like we don’t have a formula for that.

“You deal with every case individually. This year we’ve closely aligned the B team with the first team so that they’re training up here at Lennoxtown, I see them every day, I talk to the coaches every day. We’re aware of the progress they’re all making and we feel confident we can provide them a pathway to becoming Celtic footballers in the near future.”

While not referencing the situation of Vata specifically, Postecoglou is showing a degree of belief that Celtic now have steps in place to better facilitate movement between the B and first teams.

McManus’ and O’Dea’s side have had a very busy schedule in the first part of the season, so it’s not much of a surprise that youths haven’t been involved in the early stages of the campaign.

The upcoming trip to Australia and Portugal will likely provide another chance for youngsters such as Vata, Ben Summers, Kenzie Carse and other prospects to show what they can do training alongside regular starters.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Ultimately, Celtic’s success in retaining and bringing through talent in this generation remains to be seen. Postecoglou’s comments don’t actually give me too much comfort in isolation. McGregor and Forrest are fine examples for the manager to give, but it was also a long, long time ago that they broke through.

The club has to show it can still bring produce homegrown talents that aren’t snapped up abroad far too early. It has happened too often not to be considered a trend that must be addressed.

In other news, Moritz Jenz beams as he learns about his new nickname from Celtic supporters.