Reo Hatate took the Scottish Premiership by storm after arriving at Celtic from Kawasaki Frontale in the January transfer window. His early displays for the club were absolutely brilliant and he even put in one of the all-time great Glasgow Derby debut performances, scoring twice and assisting once against the Rangers in the Hoops’ 3-0 win at Parkhead back in February. Recently though, things have not been going his way.
Hatate has struggled to make his presence felt in a number of games recently and his loss of form has fans questioning whether he should be dropped from the starting XI for now.
We all know what Hatate is capable of on top of his game. But right now, he appears to be miles away from that and a period out of the team might serve him well.
Hatate has even admitted to struggling with the incredibly congested schedule that Celtic have to go through every season and feeling fatigued, both physically and emotionally. You normally do not see footballers being so open about their problems in the middle of the campaign. As reported by The Scotsman, the Japanese star told Sportiva:
“Since my debut against Hibernian I’ve felt the intensity of the European game.
“But for what feels like the first time, I’m definitely feeling emotional and physical fatigue.
“It’s been three months since I arrived in Glasgow and getting used to a new environment on and off the pitch has been trial and error.
“In Japan there were ways I could refresh myself and take a mental break but that’s difficult when you’re playing so frequently.
“There are times when I can’t make a run on goal, or hold back on the attack to preserve the team’s balance, and have to recognise my fatigue.
“For the national team I had to go to Australia, then Japan, and back to Scotland. It was my first call-up as an overseas player. On my first day back at Celtic there was a moment I saw two balls and was clearly jet-lagged but in Europe you need to be tough enough to stay fit and fight for your position.”
Who could replace Hatate in the Celtic starting XI?
At this point of time, it is hard to see a midfielder who has the combination of attributes that Hatate has.
Of course, Celtic could go with the trio of Callum McGregor, Matt O’Riley and Tom Rogic but that has not worked very well when tried in the past.
On the other hand, the trio of McGregor and Rogic with David Turnbull did wonders earlier on in the season but one has to question how effective it will be on the defensive side of things. The likes of Yosuke Ideguchi and James McCarthy have barely featured.
Thus, if Ange Postecoglou was to take Hatate out of the starting XI, Nir Bitton might be his best option to replace him.
This article was originally posted here