Reo Hatate tells Japanese media all about his "difficult" Celtic struggles

By David Walton

March 27, 2022

Celtic midfielder Reo Hatate has opened up to Japanese media about the adaption he’s had to make in Scotland and his early Parkhead struggles.

Hatate was one of several J-League players signed in January by Ange Postecoglou. He got off to a flyer with big goals against Hearts and Rangers respectively. However, over the last month he’s struggled to put in impactful performances.

Ball retention has been a particular concern, whilst he isn’t getting into the goalscoring positions he was managing earlier on. Despite that, he looked somewhat back to his best in last weekend’s 4-0 mauling of Ross County.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

And as quoted by Japanese website Ultra-Soccer, Hatate said: “It wasn’t easy. I was marked by the other teams and had to play a lot of games, so it was difficult in terms of my condition and so on. I think it’s a two-month period in which I saw both the good and the bad sides.

“Under the current coach, I am told to find space, or to find a position where I can be free. I am very conscious of moving in and out and I am aware of changing positions in combination with my teammates. I think they are looking for goals and assists, and I want to focus on that.

“The environment, pitch conditions, and climate are different from those in Japan, so it took me a long time to get used to it. Next was the difference in soccer style, with the team playing hard on the edge of the box, switching offensively and defensively quickly, and playing at a high speed. So it was difficult to adjust.”

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Reo Hatate has made a more positive start at Celtic than he may think

It’s difficult to guage at the moment, but it sounds as though Hatate believes his start at Celtic could’ve gone a touch better. He isn’t wrong if that’s how he does feel, but it also could’ve gone a heck of a lot worse.

His displays against the likes of Hibs, Hearts, and Rangers respectively earned him time. The fans knew there and then what level of quality he had at his disposal. However, it was always going to take a bit more patience from us before we started seeing the best of Hatate.

It’s been the same with Daizen Maeda too. He’s another who started off brightly before fading away a touch, only to then bounce back with some impressive performances after an adaption period. Hatate needs to be offered that same opportunity whilst there being an acknowledgment that every individual adapts to different cultures differently.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Thankfully, it does look as though the confidence is returning to the former Kawasake Frontale man. He clearly enjoyed himself in his last outing against Ross County. That was perhaps his most impressive performance since Rangers back in February.

Next up, meanwhile, is a trip to Ibrox in which Hatate could become a proper Celtic hero. He looks all but likely to feature against Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s men next Sunday. If he does, high levels will be needed to get the job done.

But his start to life in Glasgow has been more positive than he may think. He’s certainly still well-adored, and a top display next weekend would go a long way to solidifying that heroic status.

In other news, Croatia boss could be about to give Celtic a class Josip Juranovic boost