Celtic: 'Door has opened' for £10k-a-week star's arrival at Parkhead

Celtic manager Ange Postecoglou in Scottish Premiership against Rangers

Celtic could ‘try and sign’ Manchester City defender Ko Itakura this summer after missing out on his signature previously, according to journalist Pete O’Rourke.

The 25-year-old has never actually featured for his parent club since arriving from Kawasaki Frontale back in January 2019 and could secure a permanent move away when the market reopens in around a week’s time.

What is the latest news involving Itakura?

According to Sky Sports, Celtic are ‘monitoring’ Itakura as they are looking to bolster their defensive options ahead of next season, with a left-back and another centre-back targeted.

The Japan international joined Schalke on loan for the 2021/22 campaign, helping them win promotion back to the Bundesliga, but they do not have the funds to trigger their £4.5 million option-to-buy clause.

Itakura, who earns £10,000-per-week, confirmed that he is set to depart the Veltins-Arena after just 12 months with a heartfelt message on social media, opening the door for Celtic to try their luck once again.

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“I am very grateful for my time with Schalke. It is a great club, and we enjoyed a great season together. It really felt like a family,” wrote the 6 foot 1 ace.

“I will miss everyone here very much, but I wish Schalke all the best for the future. Thank you for everything. Glück auf (good luck).”

What has O’Rourke said about Itakura?

In an interview with GiveMeSport, O’Rourke said: “Obviously, he’s been a long-term target for Celtic.

“They were linked last summer with him, but he ended up going to Schalke and had a very good season, but they will not be signing him on a permanent basis due to financial reasons, so that maybe opens the door for Celtic to try and sign him this year.

“I think Celtic now, with Champions League football next season, will need to improve the squad, and centre-back is an area which Ange Postecoglou will be looking to strengthen in as well.”

How good is Itakura?

Itakura enjoyed two separate loan spells with FC Groningen in 2019/20 and 2020/21, racking up 59 appearances for the Dutch outfit, helping them to consecutive top-half finishes in the Eredivisie.

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The pacey defender then played a pivotal role in Schalke claiming the Bundesliga.2 title last term, registering four goals in 31 league outings.

With Celtic set to compete in next term’s Champions League, Itakura could be a welcome addition to Ange Postecoglou’s ranks, especially as he is perhaps more mobile than their current options.

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