Celtic Transfer News: Ange Postecoglou eyes another Japan international

  • John  Reid
Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou on the touchline in the Champions League

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou is interested in centre-back Ko Itakura, but Manchester City want a substantial fee to allow the Japanese international to leave on loan, the Daily Record reports.

What’s the latest transfer news involving Ko Itakura?

The report discloses that Hoops manager Postecoglou is interested in Itakura. Any move would see him link up with fellow Japanese international Kyogo Furuhashi, who joined Celtic last week.

The stumbling block is that parent club Manchester City want a large loan fee for the defender, and there is interest in the player from unnamed European clubs.

However, it’s not explicitly stated that Celtic would only consider a loan deal for Itakura. 

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How has Itakura performed whilst out on loan?

Itakura has spent the last two seasons on loan at FC Groningen, making 59 appearances and scoring one goal for the Dutch side. He performed well during his time in the Netherlands – as revealed by WhoScored he averaged the second-most interceptions in the squad last season with two per game.

He also rated highly for clearances, once again finishing second with 4.2 per game. With those statistics it is easy to see why the Hoops want to add the 6-cap international to their squad.

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What is the current centre-back situation at Celtic?

Celtic have gone through a major change in defence in the last few days, which has seen one centre-back depart the club and another arrive. Kristoffer Ajer completed his move to Brentford, in a deal which will reportedly earn the Hoops £13.5m.

Coming into the club is Carl Starfelt – the 26-year-old has joined the Bhoys from Rubin Kazan. But Transfermarkt shows the Hoops only have four natural centre-backs in the squad, and one of those, Christopher Jullien, is injured.

The Celtic manager will want to avoid situations like the one he had against Midtjylland in midweek, when Nir Bitton, who is technically a midfielder, played in defence and was sent off.

The addition of Itakura could mean that Bitton won’t have to play as a centre-back again this season.

Is it a gamble to sign Itakura on loan?

If Itakura does sign for Celtic on a temporary deal, he will be the first loan arrival of the Postecoglou era.

The purchases that he has made so far – Osaze Urhoghide, Liel Abada, Bosun Lawal and the aforementioned duo of Furuhashi and Starfelt – have all been brought to the club on permanent deals.

That seems like the right way to go about building a foundation for the future. Perhaps the only exception will be if it is a player that Postecoglou highly rates, and the only way to get a deal done is via a loan move.

Celtic won’t want a repeat of Shane Duffy’s loan move to the club. He joined the Hoops last season from Brighton but had a disappointing season and although he featured regularly, making 27 appearances, injuries and poor from blighted his time in Glasgow.

As WhoScored showed, Duffy ranked all the way down in 20th place last season when it came to tackles per game, with an average of just 0.8.

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