Celtic given Ko Itakura transfer lifeline as Man City ‘demand’ leaves door ajar for Hoops

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Celtic may have been given the opportunity to reignite their pursuit of Ko Itakura with Manchester City due to ramp up their asking price for the Japanese international. Borussia Monchengladbach looked set to beat the Hoops to Ikatura’s signature, but the new twist could see the deal turn on its head. 

Celtic have been linked with Itakura since Ange Postecoglu took charge last year. Things seemed to have been progressing well earlier this summer, before reports indicated that ‘Gladbach were on the verge of winning the race as multiple elements of the deal had already been agreed. 

But an update from Bild reveals that Man City are hoping to bump up his £5million price tag. That fee had already ruled out Schalke from completing a permanent switch after the defender impressed on loan last season, and the demand of more money could turn ‘Gladbach off too. 

Celtic may wish to test the waters if they are serious about signing Ikatura, given that negotiations with the German side appear to have stalled. 

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The Hoops have already signed Cameron Carter-Vickers from Tottenham this month to bolster their defensive options, but Itakura is also highly thought of by Postecoglu. The 25-year-old has been on City’s books since 2019, spending the past three seasons on loan in the Netherlands and Germany. 

Last campaign, he helped Schalke achieve promotion back to the Bundesliga with four goals in 31 league appearances. Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola’s solid defensive contingent suggests that Itakura has little chance of a future at the Etihad, and with one year remaining on his contract, a sale is expected over the coming weeks.

Although a move to ‘Gladbach seemed inevitable just a matter of days ago, the new twist may encourage Postecoglou and co to try their luck. Itakura has already commented on the Hoops’ interest, admitting: “I’m very happy to hear that story because I’ve seen it in the news. Firstly, I want to go where I am needed. I haven’t decided on a team yet, no. I want to help myself by taking for myself before I decide to go.”

Celtic will hope that fellow Japanese internationals Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda give ringing endorsements about life in Scottish football to help sway Itakura away from the Bundesliga. The Hoops have already set about wielding their pulling power after pipping Rangers to the Scottish Premiership title in 2021/22, and Chris Sutton has urged his former side to spend big on a new midfielder. 

“Postecoglu isn’t just going to want a bruiser in there who just kicks people, makes tackles, covers runners but can’t pass the ball,” he told The Scotsman. “He’ll want someone who can play as well as do the ugly side to a high level and, in the modern game, prices for these fellas can range up to around £50million.

“Finding that diamond in the rough, as they did with [Victor] Wanyama, is the task. I see Brazilian Vinicius Souza is one name mentioned for the role, so it seems they are looking.”

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