Filip Benkovic completed his long-awaited loan move away from Leicester City today, with the former Bhoys’ loanee moving temporarily to OH Leuven in the Belgian Pro League.
‘Benko’, as he was named by the Celtic Park faithful in his 2018/19 loan spell at Paradise under Brendan Rodgers, was heavily linked with a return to Glasgow this window following a rather unsuccessful six months at Cardiff City. However, for reasons unknown – which are rumoured to be Neil Lennon’s uncertainty of Benkovic’s fitness given that he’s played just one game at Cardiff – Lawwell and co. haven’t gone forward with the deal, and so the Croat has packed his bags and moved to central Belgium for the rest of the year.
It really does add fuel to the unspiralling fire that looms around Celtic Park at the moment. Christopher Jullien is injured for pretty much the rest of the season, Shane Duffy has done little to adhere himself to the Celtic support and Jack Hendry is excelling in Belgium on loan at Oostende; leaving Kris Ajer as the only reputable choice at centre-half. So it begs belief – why not take on a player who has proved himself to be a great player at Parkhead? Even John Kennedy refused to rule out a move for Benko, meaning that there is surely some form of miscommunication going on at the club.
When asked about the failed switch, Benkovic said: “I really liked being at Celtic. I felt very happy and had a very good season, we won the title and two cups. I am still very proud of that. However, the ambitions of this club (OH Leuven) and the conversation with the coach convinced me to take this step.”
“I hardly played at Cardiff City in recent months. They didn’t speak much to me there. When I asked why I barely played, I was told they were quite happy with me.”
“But in the end, the coach opted again for the guys who were there last season. It made no sense to stay there.”
Best of luck to the big man himself; although I have a feeling that having seen Jack Hendry do so well in the Flemish land when he, at times, has languished in the Scottish Premier League, the Celtic hierarchy will be kicking themselves when they see Benko’s achievements.