The rise and rise of Reo Hatate has been almost meteoric.

HeĀ hit the ground running last winter and evenĀ banged in a brace as Ange Postecoglou's Celtic demolished Rangers 3-0 at Parkhead in a decisive Scottish Premiership encounter.

The man from Japan's star was on the rise back then - and it hasn't stopped rising since. A Scottish Premiership medal followed in his first six months with the club as he helped the Hoops reclaim the title from rivals Rangers at the first attempt under the Australian coach.

This season Hatate so far has been a revelationĀ with eight goals and nine assists from 38 matches in all competitions. Naturally, it has led to the 24-year-old being touted for Scotland's highest accolade: the player of the year award.

Six outings in the Champions League group stages against the likes of Real Madrid and RB Leipzig also helped Hatate's cause as he put himself and his talents firmly on the European football map. Not bad for a player who hadĀ been playing professional football for only the best part of three years before he pitched up in Glasgow.

Yet despite his irresistible club form a recall to the international fold continues to elude both he and top scorer Kyogo Furuhashi.

Hatate has one solitary Samurai Blue cap to his name - earned against Vietnam in a 2020 World Cup qualifier - while Furuhashi, his elder by almost three years, has 16. Their team-mateĀ Daizen Maeda, a month older than Hatate, was called up and has 11 caps.

JapanĀ national coach Hajime Moriyasu left both players out of his World Cup 2022 finals squadĀ and they were overlooked again for last month's international friendly double-header against Uruguay and Colombia.

Amid some consternation, Moriyasu explained his decision thus: "I've watched all of Celtic's games and seen what they've accomplished and their presence in the team. But there's no bar to clear to be called up, it's a comprehensive decision.

"We think about the level of the league and various other factors when making the decision."


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It is likely Hatate and Kyogo could get the chance to impress Moriyasu in personĀ this month as he is planning a month-long trip to Europe. It could see him take in the Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers at Hampden on April 30.

Hatate's former Under-12s National Select coach Tom Byer insists that his former charge'sĀ continued exclusion has left him questioning whether or not Moriyasu is being economical with the truth aboutĀ watching every Celtic game this season.

"Hajime Moriyasu has his way of doing this as the Japan manager," Byer told The Celtic Way. "The only thing I can really kind of say about that is either he's not getting the film of the players in action or he's not watching. How can he not see how well both Hatate and Kyogo are playing for Celtic? We saw how well both of themĀ linked up for Celtic in the League Cup final win over Rangers at Hampden Park.

"I know he also made some comments about the Scottish league - that it's inferior - but I would imagine Moriyasu would be hard-pressed to name more than two clubs in the Scottish league beyond Celtic and Rangers. It'sĀ maybe just not on his radar other than the fact that he knows there are a bunch of Japanese players playing at Celtic.

"Another thing could be that his scouting system is failing him right now - because Hatate's form is not being brought to his attention enough. If you look at Hatate right now and you look at the quality of the goals he is scoring, these are goals that could probably be scored in almost any league in the world.

"As a player, Hatate is like Mr Wonderful isn't he? He scores on the left, he scores on the right, he gets into the box so often; he rarely loses the ball and his dribbling and his through passes are excellent too.

"He is doing it all for Celtic so it must be frustratingĀ not to get called up for Japan. He may not be playing in a top league, according to Moriyasu, but if you watch his highlights reel it is still mightily impressive. Hatate could possibly be the player of the year for the Scottish league - and what then?"

Celtic Way:

Postecoglou has referenced more than once that Hatate possesses anĀ insatiable thirst for knowledge and he is constantly striving to be better toĀ elevate his game to the next level - it's just so far been to no avail on the international front.

Byer, who has lived in Japan since the mid-1980s, reckons the nation still displays traits of an 'island mentality' and thus with Hatate and Kyogo playing in Scotland they could be out of sight, out of mind to Moriyasu and his team.

"I've been in Japan for 38 years and these kinds of things happen," Byer added. "I mean the reality is, and it cringes me to say this, but Japan still has a little bit of an island mentality where they just don't see what's going on outside their own borders as much.

"Postecoglou's comments on Hatate [and Kyogo] are pleasant, positive, characteristics of the two players and they are very Japanese. Japanese footballers tend to be quiteĀ fascinated and enamoured with the process rather than what the end result is.

"I'm a culture warrior -Ā I attribute most things to culture. And the one thing that I've always brought up as a point of discussion is that the coaching, if you look at the make-up of all the Japanese national teams from the youngest all the way up, is filled with Japanese coaches that are primarily domestic ones who have never had any experience of playing or coaching overseas.

"That's partly why I deduce that Moriyasu is not really paying proper attention to what Hatate and Kyogo are doing at Celtic despite his claims to the contrary. It may well just be a case of Hatate and Kyogo being out of sight and out of mind - because otherwise it is bizarre why they are not in theĀ international squad."

WhileĀ both players are on the verge of a domestic clean sweep in Scotland, Byer is adamant that Moriaysu will also want to see the Japanese duo in action at the highest level of all:Ā the Champions League.

Having sampled the delights of dining out at football's top table last season, Byer concedes that Moriyasu may be more inclined to form his international selection judgements on matches against elite European opposition given his comments concerning the poor nature of the Scottish league.


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And, in the manager'sĀ defence, he has been blessed with an abundance of talented midfielders in this generation. Like many coaches, he also has a reputation for intense loyalty to his tried-and-tested players.

He added: "With guys like Moriyasu they tend to get their alarm clock going off when these players do something in a Champions League match when they are competing against the bigger teams.

"Aside from the English Premier League, La Liga in Spain and the Bundesliga in Germany, all the other leagues are pretty much about the same quality to me which again also kind of tells me that Moriyasu is maybe not watching what's going on with Hatate.

"Is the Belgian league really stronger than the Scottish league? We could have a good argument about which teams are better quality-wise.

"But the one thing I would say in defence of Moriyasu is that the Japan national team is spoiled with the quality of this generation of players. There are just a lot of good Japanese players about right now.

"I'm thinking about Karou Mitoma at Brighton, Wataru Endo at VfB Stuttgart, Daichi Kamda at Eintracht Frankfurt as well Ao Tanaka at Fortuna Dusseldorf. They areĀ midfielders or forwards playing in the top flight in England and Germany. The crop of players that Japan has at its disposal right now is incredible but, even allowing for that, I would still think that Hatate should get called up to the team.

"You can never tell what's in the mind of Moriyasu but it is also important to understand that in Japanese culture the coaches are extremely loyal. Most of those players went to the World Cup and played. He will stick to what he knows unless it's a real speciality position - a lot of coaches keep faith in players who they think deserve to be there.

"I hate to say it but thisĀ isĀ an island with thousands of years of history and it's not very internationalised. That's the reality of it. Take it for what it's worth but I'd still like to think both Hatate and Kyogo will be invited to the training camp ahead of the Asian Cup."

If Hatate and Kyogo continue their upward trajectory for Celtic then surely international honours for Japan will undoubtedly follow.Ā Moriyasu can't ignore them forever, right?