Croatian centre-back Filip Benkovic is set to join Celtic on loan from Leicester City. The defender was signed by the Foxes earlier this summer. Claude Puel splashed £13m to acquire the services of the 21-year-old, and he is willing to send him out on loan as he would be aware that the youngster would find it tough to break into the first eleven at the King Power Stadium. According to reports, Benkovic witnessed Celtic in action against Suduva where they steamrolled their way to a comfortable 3-0 win.
Rodgers was hopeful of securing the young defender’s signature as he recently said,”He’s obviously just gone in at Leicester. He’s a highly rated young centre-half, big presence in both boxes can play. We will see hopefully if we can complete that.”
The centre-half was recently part of the game against Fleetwood Town in the Carabao Cup tie where he came on as a substitute. The French manager has the likes of Wes Morgan, Harry Maguire and Jonny Evans as prefered choices for the centre back position so it would have been tough for the youngster to break into the first eleven and feature on a regular basis.
The Hoops have been struggling at the back this season. Dedryck Boyata has been involved in a lot of transfer speculation as he declared himself unfit for a few games even though he has returned in action more recently. The likes of Jozo Simunovic and Jack Hendry have had mixed fortunes so far this season, and an injury to Simunovic has complicated matters further. So it was imperative for Rodgers to get a deal done for a new centre-back before the transfer window slammed shut.
What will Benkovic bring to the Celtic squad?
Given the problems Celtic have had at the back, Benkovic could very much be called into action sooner rather than later. The defender was fondly called ‘Big Ben’ by the Dinamo Zagreb fans because of his 6ft4inches frame. However, don’t take him to be a slouch on the pitch as he has decent pace and acceleration. As one would expect, Benkovic’s aerial ability is one of his strongest aspects. But the defender is also decent on the ball. Clubs like Tottenham Hotspur was also after him in the summer so one would expect the defender to be comfortable on the ball.
The Croatian has good instincts and knows when to go in for challenges and when to fall back deep. His long legs give him a huge advantage in making those lunging last ditched tackles. Given his physical presence, he is not easy to go past and is also a significant threat while attacking set pieces.
The Bhoys are getting a real gem on their hands by bringing in Benkovic. The 21-year-old has the experience of playing in the Champions League so he would be aware of the challenges at the top level. At just 21, he has a calm and matured head above his shoulders, and that’s why the Foxes paid £13m to acquire his services. We expect him to be a big hit at Parkhead.
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