Filip Benkovic has went from laughable to vital

By David Walton

October 29, 2018

Filip Benkovic’s signing from Leicester City to Celtic in the summer was met with plenty of eye-rolls from supporters.

Who could possibly say that when they heard the news of this acquisition that they were cheering? Another season-long deal where the perception was that all Celtic are doing is helping other team’s players.

There’s certainly still an element of that. It can always be difficult to build a team when you’re consistently bringing in loan players. The truth is, however, that Benkovic has the potential to be Celtic’s best defender. He may already be it, and the club would be in a much worse place without him.

Filip Benkovic was terrific against Hearts on Sunday (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Convincing victories over St Johnstone, Hibernian, and Hearts have Celtic rolling again. These wins have been built from Benkovic’s solid performances at the back.

It wouldn’t be over the top to say that he was possibly Celtic’s man-of-the-match on Sunday. Granted, Ryan Christie and Scott Sinclair will take the plaudits for two stunning individual performances. Benkovic, however, was just as effective down the other end.

All of a sudden, nobody is caring much that Benkovic is only here for the season. In fact, Celtic fans know that they’ll be better for having him at all.

The big Croatian centre-back has now made four Hoops appearances. Three of those have ended in clean sheets, and that’s no coincidence.

Benkovic is at Parkhead until the end of the season (Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)

If Celtic had went into their last three domestic matches with Jack Hendry in there, it could’ve been a lot more nervy. Benkovic’s arrival has spared Hoops fans from finding out what might’ve been.

It’s still early days in the Leicester City man’s Celtic career. We’ll find out plenty more about him between now and the end of the season. He could turn out to have some real poor displays and make this piece look rather foolish in the long-term.

As it stands, however, the big defender has been a vital part of this Celtic revival. Many will have rolled their eyes when he walked through the door at the end of the transfer window.

One thing’s for sure, nobody is doing the same now.