The Chalkboard: Celtic already have ideal short-term Benkovic replacement in Lustig

Celtic loanee Filip Benkovic’s formidable centre-back partnership with Dedryck Boyata continued as the Bhoys beat Aberdeen 1-0 in the Scottish League Cup final at Hampden Park on Sunday, and the club will already be worried about losing him at the end of the campaign.

What’s the word, then?

Well, the Glasgow giants signed the 21-year-old on a season-long loan deal just weeks after he joined Leicester City from Dinamo Zagreb, and he has made a huge impression at Celtic Park.

Brendan Rodgers may have brought the Croatian to Scotland thinking that Boyata could be on his way out before the summer transfer window slammed shut, but instead they are shining alongside each other after the likes of Jack Hendry and Jozo Simunovic struggled at the beginning of the campaign.

Given he cost around £13m, it firstly appears unlikely that Celtic will be able to afford to buy him next summer, or given his impressive displays that the Foxes would be willing to sell him without making a single appearance for them.

Who can replace him?

Knowing that he is likely to lose Benkovic – and potentially Boyata too if his performances continue and a new contract isn’t signed – Rodgers will surely already be considering his centre-back options.

The Northern Irishman has already hinted that he is open to handing first-choice right-back Mikael Lustig a new deal with his current one due to run out next summer, but the Swede’s display during the Europa League clash against Rosenborg on Thursday suggested he perhaps no longer has the attributes to be a real success in that position – in Europe especially.

However, he has played at the heart of the defence plenty of times during his career and while he might be losing his pace, he has the experience and quality to replace Benkovic – in the short term, at least.

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