Reo Hatate makes Celtic transfer exit confession as midfielder eyes elite league

Celtic star Reo Hatate
-Credit: (Image: SNS Group)

Celtic hero Reo Hatate admits he's keen to test himself in one of Europe's top leagues.

The Japanese playmaker has been a major success at Parkhead since arriving from the J-League two-and-a-half years ago - lifting seven trophies. But the 26-year-old has never hidden the fact he sees the Hoops as a stepping stone and has reiterated his desire to play in England, Spain or Italy.

He told media in Japan: "There are still higher leagues, so if I can challenge for those leagues, I want to do so. Unless I aim for that, there is no point in me continuing as an athlete. I want to keep aiming high. I would like to play in the Premier League, as well as Spain or Italy."

Hatate confessed it took him time to adjust to Brendan Rodgers' playing style after starring under Ange Postecgolou. He said: "The biggest part of the game was that, in Ange's time, the first thing we did was play goal-oriented football. We were told to go vertical as much as possible. But Rodgers' coaching style is very much about the ball. Even in situations where you can attack quickly, the first priority is to keep the ball. I believe that is the main change.

"There are also other obvious differences, like the fact that fewer goals were scored from crosses compared to the 2022-23 season. I think it was a difficult season, as it was the first year with Rodgers as manager. If I had to say, it was more a sense of keeping the good parts of the previous team, and trying to adapt to what the new coach wanted to do.

"That's why we struggled in the beginning, but as we worked on it, we came to understand what each other wanted to do. As a team, we have found a good response, but we also wanted to do more. Personally, I enjoyed the more aggressive and faster goal-oriented style of football. But I also discovered new things, including how to take care of the ball, so it was a good experience."