Manchester City defender Ko Itakura has refused to rule out a summer transfer to Celtic, saying he is flattered to be linked with the Scottish champions.

Centre-back Itakura, 25, has impressed at Schalke this season, but they may not be able to afford his pre-agreed £6m purchase fee to make the loan move from City permanent. That has alerted the likes of Celtic and Freiburg to his possible availability, and now he has discussed the interest from Scotland while representing Japan on international duty.

“I’m very happy to hear that story because I’ve seen it in the news,” he said.

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“Firstly, I want to go where I am needed. I haven’t decided on a team yet, no. I want to help myself by taking for myself before I decide to go.”

Itakura hinted that he would have been happy remaining at Schalke, but effectively confirmed that the German club won’t be making his move permanent this summer.

He continued: “It’s sad after all, I had a good season with everyone. Schalke is a good option for me, and I want to play with everyone. Schalke said they would do something about it, but this can’t be helped. It’s not Schalke’s fault, and I can’t do anything about it.

“I am grateful to Schalke for inviting me and giving me the chance to play for a big club. I’m sad to be out after a solid promotion to the first division, but I’m relieved or satisfied, I’ve achieved my minimum goal.”

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