Brendan Rodgers has hailed “big talent” Filip Benkovic and revealed he is keen to sign the Celtic loanee on a permanent deal.
Speaking at the club’s AGM on Wednesday, Rodgers explained he is a big admirer of the 6ft 4in centre-back (source: Transfermarkt) and that he has settled well at Parkhead.
Benkovic joined the Hoops on a season-long loan in August but the deal includes a recall option that his parent club Leicester City can trigger in the forthcoming transfer window.
“Filip is here on a loan period and Leicester have the opportunity to take him back in January,” Rodgers said, as quoted by the Scottish Sun. “He is really happy here and Leicester let us have him for a reason – which was to come and get game time and prepare him for the Premier League next season.
“The likelihood is that this is a very difficult deal but if there was an opportunity it was one we would look at for sure. He is a big talent, but lots of these players from around Europe want to play in the Premier League.”
In a way, this deal is out of Celtic’s hands. It all depends upon Leicester and Benkovic himself. Certainly, the centre-back is a class act and he has emerged as the best partner for Dedryck Boyata this season, ahead of Kristoffer Ajer, Jack Hendry and Jozo Simunovic. It would be great news for the Hoops if they could keep the Croatia for the second half of the season and appear to have a good chance of doing so, with Harry Maguire and Wes Morgan the established centre-back partnership in Claude Puel’s side, and Jonny Evans and Caglar Soyuncu as back-ups. Only an injury crisis is likely to force them to exercise the recall option in the 21-year-old’s season-long loan. As for a permanent deal, that would appear unlikely at this stage, as Benkovic looks to have the qualities to become a Premier League centre-back. His aerial prowess, composure and class have added a new dimension to Celtic, and they are assets that should help him make it at Celtic, or elsewhere.