German Report: Celtic-linked Ko Itakura to join Schalke on loan; City slap £3.4m tag on him
German TV station Sport 1 has reported that Celtic-linked Ko Itakura is about to join Schalke on loan for the season from Manchester City.
Yesterday, Sky Sports News said that the Japanese international was unlikely to move to Parkhead. Instead, it appears his next move could be to Germany and the Bundesliga 2.
Interestingly, Sport 1 also claim that City have slapped a €4m [£3.4m] option-to-buy clause in the deal. Should the centre-back impress in Germany, Schalke have the first option to sign him outright.
But this could be of interest to Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou. If Schalke decide not to take up the option next summer, he’ll be available once again. And with a more than affordable valuation.
However, for now, the Hoops will need to crack on without him. Carl Starfelt is the only centre-back to have arrived at the club so far this summer. Stephen Welsh, Christopher Jullien, Nir Bitton, and Dane Murray make up the rest of our options.
Celtic will likely keep tabs on Ko Itakura despite Schalke move
If everything goes well for Itakura, he likely won’t be at Celtic Park any time in the future. If he has a good campaign with Schalke, you have to imagine they’ll snap him up. Especially if he manages to help them gain promotion to the Bundesliga.
Of course, City could change their valuation should another club come in for the player, but that would make little sense. Come next summer, Itakura will be into the final year of his contract in England [Salary Sport]. He’ll have to be sold at a cut-price deal in any case.
It’s an interesting situation, and you can understand Celtic fans who are disappointed not to snap him up. When you look at our defensive options, we could certainly do with one more addition.
Celtic looked like the natural step-up for the Japanese defender. After 18 successful months on loan in the Eredivisie with Groningen, it’s surprising to see him drop down to a second division club. Regardless of whether it’s a club of Schalke’s size or not.
From our own perspective, we’ll want to build a solid group of centre-backs this season regardless. The hope will be that Starfelt, Welsh, and Jullien can rotate whilst keeping performance levels high. Murray will also hopefully start to break through this term also.
But all the while it’s good to keep tabs on potential recruits for the next off-season. City appear to have shown their valuation of the centre-back, and Celtic will no doubt be monitoring his progress to some extent.