As he closed in on the expiry of his contract in the summer, Celtic youngster Rocco Vata had seemed all set to leave Parkhead. Clubs in Italy have been showing interest, with Bologna the first to emerge as a potential suitor and then Serie B side Como FC making an approach too.
The Hoops reportedly rejected multiple bids for Vata during last summer’s transfer window, but they initially gave him permission to leave this month, even though they were set to earn less than £350,000 in compensation. Now, though, there’s seemingly a twist at Parkhead following developments on Wednesday.
Vata could yet stay at Celtic
According to Sky Sports journalist Anthony Joseph, who shared a Rocca Vata update, Celtic have now begun contract talks with the Irishman. Hoops officials have initiated discussions with the players’ agency, CAA Base, in the hope of convincing him to stay in Glasgow.
Vata is “believed to be keen” on remaining with the club, but on the condition that he’s shown the “right pathway” to Brendan Rodgers’ first-team. It remains to be seen, then, whether the negotiations have the desired outcome.
Vata can make Celtic forget about Van Hooijdonk
It’s promising for Celtic that Vata camp are at least receptive to sitting down for a fresh round of talks. The 18-year-old, who can play as a striker, winger or a number 10, has underlined his potential this season while in action for the club’s b-team in the Lowlands League, scoring 12 goals in 15 appearances. He’s also making waves at the international level too, having scored a double on his debut for Ireland’s under-21s in September.
Last weekend, as Celtic returned to action following their winter break against Highland League side Buckie Thistle in the Scottish Cup, Rodgers handed Vata a start, perhaps a sign that progress had been made behind the scenes. The 18-year-old took his opportunity by scoring his first goal for the club in a resounding 5-0 win.
At every level, he’s showing that he’s an “exciting” talent (in the words of talent scout Jacek Kulig), and it feels like Celtic could end up regretting it if they lose him. As stated, Vata needs to be shown a pathway, and that could involve more opportunities in the Scottish Premiership. For all his promise, he hasn’t even been named in the matchday squad for a league game this season.
It was reported in Italy that Bologna’s interest in Vata could potentially smooth over a deal for their striker Sydney van Hooijdonk, with Rodgers looking to strengthen at centre-forward before the end of the window. It’s theoretically possible that taking Vata off the table will scupper that move, but the hope will be that the youngster reaches such a high level in a few years’ time that Van Hooijdonk is ultimately forgotten about.
While it isn’t a new face and may not generate the same level of excitement, this could end up being one of the most important pieces of business Celtic conduct this month.