Defensive targets prove Celtic are set to lose Dedryck Boyata and Filip Benkovic

By David Walton

March 11, 2019

Celtic’s defensive targets for the summer have started to be speculated ahead of a busy off-season.

In recent days, both Tomas Kalas and Srdjan Babic have both been linked with moves to Parkhead. The Bristol City and Red Star Belgrade defenders respectively are of a high quality, and have strong pedigree.

But, if both links are true, it’s clear that Celtic have lost hope in retaining Filip Benkovic and Dedryck Boyata.

For us supporters, there was still a little bit of hope in keeping one or both. After all, Benkovic has spoken in the past about how much he’s been enjoying himself at Parkhead.

Filip Benkovic looks set to head back to Leicester City (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

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He also has a good friend here in Jozo Simunovic, and is close to another in Rangers defender Borna Barisic. Another year of experience at Parkhead after his injury problems could’ve been in supporters’ hopes.

But Brendan Rodgers’ move to Benkovic’s parent-club Leicester City hasn’t helped. He’s already made it clear that the Croatian is in his Leicester plans. Rodgers, after all, signed the defender on a season-long loan deal last summer.

Boyata, meanwhile, has already seen his agent say that an extended say at Celtic wasn’t an option. Neil Lennon, however, came into the club and said he would try and keep the Belgian beyond the summer.

Links wouldn’t appear if Celtic were keeping star duo

But Celtic wouldn’t be getting linked with a couple of centre-backs so early if there was no interest in getting any in.

At the very least, Celtic are surely now resigned to losing one of them. But it’s looking more and more likely that the Hoops are going to have to make do without both.

Dedryck Boyata has been a stalwart this season (Vagelis Georgariou/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Celtic, of course, still have Kristoffer Ajer and Jozo Simunovic here beyond the end of the season. Ajer has had a fine campaign and could easily command a place in Celtic’s first-choice defensive back-line next season.

But the Hoops need strength in depth. Targeting more than one defender would show that Celtic are preparing to lose both Boyata and Benkovic come the end of the campaign.

This isn’t anything that will surprise supporters. But any faint hopes we have of keeping either are pretty much lessened with every centre-back we’re linked with.