Celtic have officially missed out on another defensive target today as Filip Benkovic confirmed his move to OH Leuven of Belgium.
Benkovic had been strongly linked with a move to Glasgow this month. Not least after John Kennedy admitted that he was being strongly considered by the management team at Parkhead (Glasgow Times).
Hours after that, reports were being printed of the Croatian heading elsewhere (Daily Mail). Today, that’s been confirmed by Leicester City, who sent him a good luck message as he departs for the rest of the season.
For Celtic fans, it’s just another little bit of frustration. Neil Lennon’s side also missed out on Mark McKenzie after reportedly looking to sign him in recent months (Sports Illustrated). McKenzie’s move to Genk and Benkovic’s Leuven switch means we’ve now missed out on two targets to Belgian clubs.
Meanwhile, the Hoops are left wondering who else is on our shortlist this month. Lennon has already confirmed he wants another defender in this month before the window closes (Scottish Sun).
Not all Celtic fans were keen on Benkovic; OH Leuven move a big one for him
In fairness, the prospect of a Benkovic return wasn’t universally accepted amongst the Celtic support. Plenty on social media expressed concern over the centre-back’s injury history plus the fact he only played once for Cardiff this season.
These were all valid concerns. However, the fact is Benkovic was on Celtic’s shortlist. He was one of a number of players the recruitment team are apparently considering. And it’s yet another name we can cross off the list this month.
There have been no reports of Celtic being close to bringing in their first player of the January window. That’s not surprising though. Celtic barely get their January work done early as we close in on the midway point.
It also remains to be seen how the performances of Stephen Welsh affect things. He was mightily impressive against Hibernian last night and looks in line to feature in the Livingston double-header too. Don’t be surprised if Celtic try to make him out to be like a new signing. Albeit, Welsh getting more game-time would hardly be a disaster.
As for Celtic and Filip Benkovic, Leuven is a good move for him. We may want to keep tabs on how he does in Belgium too. With Shane Duffy’s loan up in the summer and constant speculation over Kris Ajer’s future, we’ll likely be in the market for another defender in the summer.
Who’s to say that can’t be Benkovic should he finally kick-start his career over the next five months.