Why Celtic don't need Filip Benkovic in January

By David Walton

December 18, 2019

As January ticks closer, there will undoubtedly be links that will connect Celtic with a Filip Benkovic return.

You can see the thought process behind it too. He hasn’t played a single game for Leicester City’s senior side this season. Instead, he’s been limited to Premier League 2 football with the development squad. Added to that, he hasn’t even made a single matchday squad for the A team either (Transfermarkt).

Combine that with our lack of depth at centre-back and you could see where the attraction comes from. Outside of Nir Bitton, we don’t have a viable candidate to come in for Christopher Jullien or Kristoffer Ajer when they pick up injuries. Yes, we have Jack Hendry, but we can hardly rely on him. Jozo Simunovic, meanwhile, is too injury-prone.

Neil Lennon will be on the lookout for defensive reinforcements (Paul Ursachi/MB Media/Getty Images)

The need for a centre-back is there. However, Benkovic’s situation and ours just don’t connect well enough in order for us to merit going in for him.

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Back in October, Brendan Rodgers admitted that he could look to send Benkovic on loan in January (Scottish Sun). That alone simply doesn’t work for us.

New centre-back should be permanent

If Celtic are going out to get a new centre-back, it has to be someone who is coming in for the long-term. We can’t sign someone like Benkovic who will likely want assurances over his place before arriving.

Filip Benkovic isn’t thriving at Leicester (Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images)

Our first-choice partnership will remain Jullien and Ajer. That should be the case regardless of who we sign in the New Year. Anyone coming in simply has to be good enough to step in when called upon whilst being here for the long-term in order to try and win a place in the team. Benkovic is simply too short-term.

If Leicester were willing to have discussions about a permanent deal, then of course that would change the complexion. But remember, this is a defender they splashed out £13million for to sign him from Dinamo Zagreb (Leicester Mercury).

Benkovic wouldn’t be our first-choice (Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Last season when Neil Lennon came in the door, Benkovic struggled for game-time. He only managed four outings after Neil’s arrival. Added to that, he didn’t look as convincing when he was in-and-out of the team, a role he would have to fill if he came back to Parkhead in January.

So if we’re looking for defensive targets over the course of the New Year, and we certainly should be, then we would probably be wise to skip the idea of a Benkovic loan deal.