Stiliyan Petrov, the former Celtic midfielder, expects that the Parkhead side will see the best of Reo Hatate this season.

The Japanese internationalist’s journey has struck a chord with Petrov after the 24-year-old spoke of acclimatising to life in Glasgow and the different cultural demands following his January move from Kawasaki Frontale.

Petrov himself had a torrid time as he made the transition as a teenager from CSKA Sofia in Bulgaria to Celtic without speaking a word of English. He has spoken often of how isolated he felt in those first few months as he struggled with homesickness and loneliness while also toiling to make an impact on the pitch where things were unravelling at a rate of knots.

He firmly found his feet with the arrival of Martin O’Neill and was a pivotal cog in establishing the club back at forefront of domestic success while also raising the bar in a European context.

“He will have learned well from last season,” said Petrov of Hatate. “He will understand Scottish football, the physicality, the technical side of it, the players. When I came to this country I had to learn a lot about Scottish football, the players I was playing against and with. It takes time. He started really well and then had a dip which is normal because of the way he plays.

“He plays with so much intensity. He has to get fitter and stronger and get better stamina but he will do that. What I expect him to do is to trust the process, trust the manager. If he does that then it will take his mind off the pressure because he will be thinking that there demands on him to score all the time. He does not have to do that. It will come as long as he enjoys his football and understands the demands of Scottish football. 

“He is miles away from family and friends and there is a language barrier. You listen and talk and when you are not involved in that and don’t understand those conversations, it is very, very difficult.”

Matt O’Riley may invite some parallels with Petrov and the manner in which he played although he laughed off comparisons between the two.

“He is faster than me!” he joked. “He has really impressed me. For someone who didn’t have experience of a high level of football he has really fit in well. He seems like he is getting better. It seems like every single young player is getting better under this manager. He seems to know the strengths of every player and plays them in the right position. He uses them to change the games in the right way.”

Celtic introduced 17 players last season across the summer and January transfer window. By the second window available to Ange Postecoglou there was a sense of solidity to Celtic but the opening weeks of last season were very much reflective of the transitional place the club were in this.
This season they start off on far firmer ground.

He said: “We will see those young players improving even more. They will come back refreshed and most of those players have never played European or Champions League football. They will be another level excitement there to go and down well.”