Reported Celtic target Ko Itakura suffers Olympic heartbreak with Japan

By David Walton

August 3, 2021

Ko Itakura and Japan have been knocked out of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics this afternoon by Spain.

Last week, it was reported that Celtic had opened discussions with Manchester City over a potential loan move for the centre-back [Daily Express]. However, the Sunday Post [01/08, back page] stated that the former Groningen loan star was waiting until after the Olympics to decide his future.

Scott McDonald joins 67HH for the Ange Postecoglou era

Scott McDonald joins 67HH for the Ange Postecoglou era

Itakura has been performing with Japan under-23s at the prestigious tournament. There’s been even more pressure on his country considering they’re the host nation.

But today, their gold medal hopes came to an end after defeat to Spain. The 1-0 extra-time loss means Japan will now face Mexico in the bronze medal match on Friday.

Itakura played the entire 120 minutes against the Spaniards this afternoon, and can be pleased with his individual performance.

Celtic closing in on final answer from Ko Itakura as Japan campaign coming to an end

From a Celtic perspective, it wouldn’t really have mattered whether Japan won today or not. Completing any deal for the defender still seems a bit off.

All that will matter for many is that the Olympics are coming to an end. After Friday’s match, Itkaura will have to make a decision about where he wants to be playing his football next season. With Celtic in desperate need of further centre-back reinforcements, the sooner he finalises his plans the better for us.

For those that watched him in action this afternoon, they’ll have surely been impressed. Itakura again showed real comfortability on the ball, something Ange Postecogloi wants in his centre-backs.

Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

In addition to that, he dealt with the threat of Mikel Oryazabal expertly. Itakura took a no-nonsense approach to the game this afternoon, and managed to limit Spain to no real big opportunities at goal. Granted, Japan’s back five consistently looked to stifle Spain as a unit in their own defensive third.

Today’s performance sums up the fine tournament Itakura has had on a personal note. Helping push Japan to the semi-finals will forever be a fine achievement.

Fingers crossed he can cap it all of with a bronze medal in three days. More importantly, here’s hoping a move to Parkhead follows it.

In other news, Joe Hart needs to feel the love of the Celtic support to get his career back on track