Transfer Focus: Benkovic and Ajer would be a formidable Celtic defensive partnership next season

Filip Benkovic is refusing to rule out signing for Celtic again next season after a successful period on loan from Leicester City, as reported by The Scottish Sun.

What’s the story?

The Croatian made 30 appearances for Celtic after both signing for Leicester City and then joining the Hoops on loan last summer.

Although suffering from injury and fitness problems in certain spells, it would be regarded as a great transfer move for all parties, with Celtic supporters delighted by his contributions mostly playing alongside Belgian international Dedryck Boyata.

Benkovic loved his time in Glasgow and speaking to media in the wake of Celtic’s Scottish Cup victory he made it clear he’s open to a return to Celtic Park.

As quoted by The Scottish Sun, he said:

“We will have to wait and see what happens in the summer and what is the plan for me next season. I have spoken with Leicester a little bit about what will happen, but not too much, as I was just concentrating on Celtic.

“I wouldn’t rule out coming back, you never know where life will take you. I don’t know what will happen but I really enjoyed my time at Celtic.

“I am so proud to have played for Celtic and I am so thankful for everything they did for me. It was a really big honour for me to play with these guys and it was a special way to finish the season.

“This year will stay with me forever. I will never forget it. I am part of history and no one can take that away from me. No amount of money can make you feel like this.”

Do Celtic need him?

Absolutely. The Hoops should be doing everything they can to retain Benkovic’s services considering the potential woes in the centre-back position this summer.

Dedryck Boyata has made the move to Hertha Berlin, so the club are two defenders down by default, leaving only Kristoffer Ajer and Jozo Simunovic as viable first-team options.

Jack Hendry has dropped out of Celtic’s plans and Marvin Compper has made just one appearance since signing for the club in January 2018.

Benkovic is a known quantity and definitely has the quality to play domestically and in Europe for the club.

Ajer partnership

After injuries to both Benkovic and Boyata, who were the first-choice partnership for large chunks of the season, Ajer has emerged as a quality option in the position.

He looks like he can lead the way for Celtic in the defence next season having slowly developed into a strong and committed performer who can cope physically and also comfortably move forward with the ball and combine with teammates.

Playing regularly alongside a talented peer such as Benkovic could only develop his abilities further. The duo are popular with fans and given the opportunity could form one of Celtic’s best defensive partnerships in years.

As well as Simunovic has played recently, his compatriot is a better player and better complements the young Norwegian. If there’s a chance to secure another loan for Benkovic, Celtic must take it.