Report: Celtic have held talks with Manchester City for Ko Itakura

By Euan Davidson

July 27, 2021

Celtic have held talks with Manchester City for centre-back Ko Itakura, according to the Daily Express.

The Express’ transfer man Ryan Taylor stats that the Bhoys have progressed to discussions over Itakura, who is at the Tokyo Olympics with Japan. Itakura, who spent two-and-a-half seasons with Groningen, has reportedly been on the Bhoys’ radar.

Taylor says Itakura remains out of the reckoning for his parent club. Also, he confirmed speculation surrounding the loan fee involved. Manchester City want a “substantial” sum to take Itakura from the Citizens.

That sizeable fee may be with an eye on the Japanese defender’s contract situation. The former Kawasaki Frontale centre-back’s contract runs out in the summer of 2022. If Manchester City could recoup some compensation for him now, it stings less to lose him next year.

Itakura recently talked of his dream to join a “world-famous” club. The “cheerful boy” spoke of his desire to FC Groningen, upon his exit from the club [FC Groningen].

Having represented every youth level for Japan, that dream could be realised at Celtic. A “world-famous” club by any metric, the Bhoys are welcoming back supporters this season. Big European nights, and the chance of silverware, could prove a tempting lure for the Japan international.

Celtic needed Ko Itakura well before now, but progress looks promising

It all seems a little too perfect. Given our transfer history with Manchester City, Postecoglou’s knowledge of Japanese football and our need for a centre-back, it all fits neatly.

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

That’s why there’s a concern that, despite all that, we might not be able to get this done. Celtic were stung by substantial loan fees for centre-backs last season. But the styles of Shane Duffy and Ko Itakura are worlds apart, despite the latter being a Premier League player, strictly speaking.

So the argument of “well, he could be another Premier League flop” doesn’t really work here.

What does work is the relationship Postecoglou has with City Group, through Yokohama F Marinos. That, and his first-hand experience of seeing Itakura star in the J-League, and win himself a huge move to England.

Albeit, one that hasn’t yielded any first-team minutes as of yet.

Impressive in the Netherlands, and with an eye surely on making a mark in Europe, Celtic signing Itakura has to be considered a big move to both parties.

And now, it looks like something could be in the offing.

In other news: who makes our Predicted XI for tomorrow night?