REO HATATE has revealed he has an “ultimate goal in mind” while he stalls on a contract extension offer from Celtic.
The Japanese midfielder has seen his compatriots Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda sign enhanced terms in the summer, but he has yet to make a decision on his immediate future.
Hatate signed until June 2026 when he joined the champions in January last year and the versatile middle-of-the-park operator instantly became a hit with the Hoops fans after a Man-of-the-Match display on his debut, a 2-0 win over Hibs at Parkhead a week after his arrival.
SEEING DOUBLE…Reo Hatate and Daizen Maeda celebrate Celtic’s 3-0 derby win at Parkhead in February last year in which the midfielder fired in a first-half double.
The love affair continued with his double salvo against Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s Ibrox visitors in the east of Glasgow during a dramatic 3-0 triumph on February 2 which propelled the Hoops back to pole position in the Premiership for the first time in 18 months.
Ange Postecoglou’s side proved to be unshakeable as they remained in the No.1 spot all the way to lifting their tenth championship in 11 years.
Brendan Rodgers clearly wants the 25-year-old international to extend his stay at Parkhead, but so far the player – who scored two goals while standing in at right-back in a 4-1 success over St Johnstone on Christmas Eve last year – has yet to make up his mind.
Hatate, however, opened up on his thoughts for the way ahead when he spoke to Japanese media outlet Soccer King.
He said: “I have always had an ultimate goal in mind. I have set short- and mid-term goals to achieve them, and I feel that I am gradually clearing them.
“However, there are still some areas that I have yet to clear, so I would like to continue to set firm benchmarks in my mind and work without wavering. I want to finish without regrets. That is the best.
“I don’t know how many more years I have left, but I really want to finish without regrets. I don’t want to play for too long, nor do I want to quit right away, but I hope to reach a point where I am satisfied as a professional soccer player.”
UP FOR THE CUP…Reo Hatate proudly holds aloft the newly-won Scottish Cup after Celtic sealed the domestic treble with a 3-1 victory over Inverness Caley Thistle at Hampden in June.
Hatate added: “I think my strength is that I can play in a variety of different ways, so I would like to raise that average even higher.
“At the same time, I would like to add a special characteristic to my game.
“I think there are still areas where I can grow, so I want to sort that out as I go along.”
Hatate is poised to make his comeback after recent injury against Dundee at Parkhead tomorrow afternoon.