Leicester defender Filip Benkovic, who had a loan spell at Celtic last season, is open to the possibility of returning to the Scottish champions in the January transfer window if a deal can be agreed between the two clubs.
Do Celtic need Benkovic back?
Football Insider reported that the 22-year-old centre-back is keen on going back to Glasgow, with Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers most likely to sanction a loan deal rather than a permanent move for the player that he brought to the Hoops in August 2018.
According to Football Insider, Celtic held internal discussions during the summer about the possibility of bringing the Croatian back to the club.
Benkovic’s apparent desire to return to Celtic is quite possibly borne not just out of his previous with the Glasgow club, but also his struggles at Leicester.
The Foxes spent £13m in signing him from Dinamo Zagreb on the eve of the 2018/19 season, as reported by Sky Sports, but he has made only one senior appearance for the Premier League outfit, that in a Carabao Cup game last season.
He had a season-long loan at Celtic last term, scoring twice in 27 games for the club and playing a part in their third consecutive domestic treble, but an ankle injury in the winter curtailed his involvement and he played just four times under Neil Lennon after Rodgers left for Leicester in February.
While Benkovic managed to obtain regular gametime under Rodgers at Parkhead, he would face stiff centre-back competition if he were to rejoin Celtic in January.
Christopher Jullien, who arrived in the summer from Toulouse, has made 17 appearances already this season and did his reputation no harm by scoring a late winner against Lazio in the Europa League last week.
Kristoffer Ajer has been an even more regular presence in the Hoops’ line-up, featuring in 21 of their 23 matches prior to tonight’s clash against St Mirren.
Those two have been firm favourites of Lennon, who gave Benkovic little gametime last season after the Croatian’s return from injury.
While Benkovic seems to have no future at Leicester and is understandably seeking regular action elsewhere, he might not be guaranteed a starting berth every week if he goes back to Celtic.
With the Hoops conceding only 11 goals in Jullien’s 16 starts at centre-back this season, and 11 in 14 matches with Ajer starting in the centre of defence, those two look set to be Lennon’s first-choice pairing whenever they are available.
Therefore, Benkovic should be prepared for an intense battle for a regular starting berth if he decides to rejoin Celtic in January.
Celtic fans, would you like to see Benkovic back at the club? Could you see him displacing one of Jullien or Ajer if he does return? Join in the discussion by commenting below!Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!