Watford have made their second signing of the summer, and pulled off something of a coup by snapping up young Celtic forward Rocco Vata.

The 19-year-old has signed a four-year contract at Vicarage Road, with the Hornets only obliged to pay the Scottish side £237,000 in training compensation.

The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international had been linked with a long list of clubs in many of Europe’s top leagues as well as other teams in England – and Celtic had also offered him a new contract in an effort to keep him at Parkhead.

However the youngster opted to join Watford, with the opportunity to work under a young, progressive coach in Tom Cleverley understood to be key in that decision.

Born in Glasgow, Vata followed in the footsteps of his father, former Celtic player and Albanian international Rudi Vata, by joining the Parkhead club at the age of seven.

He signed his first professional contract with the club in July 2021, and was included in pre-season first-team training ahead of the 2022–23 season, before joining up with the club's B team in 2022, making his debut in the Lowland League the same year.

Vata – who turned 19 in April - made his first team debut for Celtic on December 28, 2022, coming on as a substitute for Matt O'Riley as Celtic beat Hibernian 4–0 away at Easter Road.

He scored his first senior goal in a 5–0 Scottish Cup rout of Buckie Thistle in January.

The young striker is eligible to represent Albania through his father, the Republic of Ireland through his grandmother on his mother's side, Scotland through his mother and by virtue of being born there, and Montenegro.

However, on August 31, 2023, Vata received his first call up to the Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad for their UEFA 2025 European Under-21 Championship qualification games against Turkey and San Marino

He made his debut in the San Marino game, scoring twice in a 3–0 win, and then followed up with a hat-trick on his second appearance for the side, in a 7–0 win in the return fixture in San Marino.

Last season he scored 12 times in 15 outings for Celtic B in the Lowland League, and also played in six UEFA Youth League games against the likes of Feyenoord, Lazio and Atletico.

It had been reported that the striker was being carefully watched by clubs in Italy, Belgium and Germany where father – who is also his agent – has good contacts.

Celtic also offered him a new contract, but his lack of greater opportunities at first-team level led him to look elsewhere.

Ex-Watford manager Brendan Rodgers, who has just won his third Scottish Premier League title with Celtic, spoke very highly of Vata in a recent interview.

“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,” he said.

Former Republic of Ireland international defender Darren O’Dea, now head coach of Celtic B and professional player pathway manager at Parkhead, said of Vata: “He’s someone who has a killer attitude. He never stops.

“He’s got a fantastic ability to beat people and to create chances. But on top of that, he’s got a really strong, strong mind.

“I’m confident to say if he reaches his full potential, that potential could take him to the top.”

• Read Tom Cleverley's thoughts on Rocco Vata on the Watford Observer website later today.