Perhaps the most notable aspect about Rocco Vata’s goal against Buckie Thistle on Sunday evening might well have been the response from Darren O’Dea, the club’s ‘B’ team manager.
Tweeting in response to the 18-year-old’s goal in the latter stages of a comfortable win over the minnows, O’Dea suggested that it would be ‘first senior goal of many.’
For the last few months, Vata has looked to have been sitting at the exit door at Celtic Park.
A player for whom big things have predicted, Vata has seemed to have been at an impasse with the club over his long-term future.
Ange Postecoglou brought the Republic of Ireland youth internationalist into the senior fold after he had impressed in the club’s academy structure and there has been, as Brendan Rodgers mentioned, a lot of noise about his potential in recent years.
Bologna and Como have been linked with him in the current window but Celtic will be keen to keep the player whom Rodgers confirmed has been offered a contract to remain at the club.
The challenge of any academy is the danger of progressing players to a certain stage before they can be picked off by bigger leagues; Ben Doak would be the most obvious example to come to mind. The 18-year-old is currently recuperating from knee surgery but has not been slow to try and make a name of himself with Liverpool.
Keeping Vata at Celtic would be seen as a result for the club although Rodgers is not for offering any wild promises about game time.
“Young players have to earn the right,” said the Celtic manager. “There’s been a lot of noise around Rocco but any young player has to earn the opportunity. I’ve given many young players opportunities in my career.
“But I like Rocco, he has qualities. He is strong, he’s aggressive, he wants to get goals. When he came on he got his goal and he had other opportunities.”
More intriguingly was the question mark that hangs over his immediate future.
“That will be up to him,” said Rodgers.”He’s a talent.
“It depends what the mentality is with him and his representatives. You get some young players whose representatives will tell you if they are not playing in the first team, starting, they don’t want to stay. You better go then, because you have got to earn the right.
“He is 18, I don’t need players ready at 18 unless they are real, real special talents, but by 20-21 they need to be ready. But you can see he has tools and this can be a really good place for him to develop. There’s been chats around that but my focus is purely on the playing aspect. But there will be something there for him, I’m sure.”
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