Celtic midfielder Reo Hatate has given insight into the tactical tweaks which he has made to his game after Ange Postecoglou told him he had to improve.

The 25-year-old midfielder has been absolutely outstanding for the league leaders this season and will undoubtedly be in the running for Celtic’s Player of the Year.

Having joined the Scottish champions last January, Hoops fans only got to see a bit of what they could expect to come from Reo Hatate. When he arrived in Glasgow had only been playing professional football for almost three years.

Hatate has made 37 appearances under Postecoglou so far this season has scored eight goals and provided nine assists which is very impressive numbers for a midfielder.

Celtic fans knew that he could find the back of the net after his terrific brace against Rangers in the 3-0 derby victory last February as well as the thunderbolt he scored weeks earlier at Tynecastle.

He had admitted that the opposition players were becoming a bit closer to him which gave him the impetus to make changes to his own personal game.

“I have been thinking about and devising my own ways to improve the quality of my performance in front of the goal, an issue that Ange Postecoglou told me I needed to develop,” said Hatate as quoted by the [Scottish Sun]. 

“I have been playing at the bottom of midfield with captain Callum McGregor this season, and I felt that the team could perform better without me being more involved in the build-up and I decided to take a higher position and get involved in front of goal more often.

“In doing so, I also focused on my positioning. In the past, I often received the ball from the centre backs in a straight line toward the opposition goal, but this made it difficult to avoid pressure from the opponents.

Reo Hatate
14th January 2023; Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland: Scottish Viaplay Cup Football Semi Final, Celtic versus Kilmarnock; Reo Hatate of Celtic fires in a long range shot

“So what I have done is something I would describe as shifting sideways – what I mean is that I now try and receive passes from the central defenders at an angle.

“For example, if you receive a pass with your back to the opposition goal, you have to turn 180 degrees to face forward. But if you receive a pass sideways to their goal, you can turn only 90 degrees to face forward.

“If you receive the ball in a straight line, I am immediately under a lot of pressure, but if I receive the ball a little to the side, you have more speed and agility and you can strip them for pace in an instant.

“I also realised that at Celtic, the full backs were coming inside instead of going down the line, so if I opened up, there was space for me to receive the pass.

“Above all, because I am now in my second season at Celtic I was acutely aware that my opponents were marking me harder and harder every game.

“That is why a split-second move is so important. This is why I came up with the idea of receiving the ball from a different angle.

“I was able to record an assist in the League Cup Final as a result of this.

“As a result of this change, I have added more assists and goals to my game and the team are playing even better.

“A little ingenuity will change the scenario on the pitch.”

He has a great understanding with the players around him which has also taken his game to another level as he is able to seamlessly interchange around the park.

Postecoglou said that Hatate and Daizen Maeda were two players that he firmly believed would only get better in a Celtic shirt.




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