In Focus: Benkovic could solve Celtic’s defensive problems

As reported by The Scottish Sun, Celtic are stepping up their interest in Dinamo Zagreb defender Filip Benkovic ahead of the January transfer window.

What’s the story?

Celtic’s problems at centre-back are well known, they’ve struggled to find a consistent partnership all season due to injuries with first-choice defenders Jozo Simunovic, Dedryck Boyata and Erik Sviatchenko all missing significant chunks of the 2017/18 already.

After the latest injury to Simunovic, Brendan Rodgers recently admitted it was an area he was now looking at in January.

One man apparently on their radar is Filip Benkovic, with The Scottish Sun reporting that the Hoops sent scouts to watch him in action just this past weekend.

Rated at £7.2m by Transfermarkt and with his contract not expiring until 2022, he could cost the Scottish champions a fair amount, but is he the long-term answer in the position as the club look to push on to new heights both domestically and in Europe?

A good signing?

Benkovic is regarded as one of the finest defensive prospects in Croatia and alongside Jozo Simunovic, who was signed from the same club, or Dedryck Boyata could build a formidable partnership in the Hoops’ defensive line.

Still just 20 years of age, he’s made over 50 appearances for Dinamo Zagreb and appears destined to find international caps too, representing his nation at U21 level. As a bonus, he’s also already made 15 appearances in UEFA competition, including five group stage matches in the Champions League last season.

If Celtic are to perform well in Europe beyond Christmas they need not just a player who can provide cover in the position but also compete for places outright and Benkovic definitely fits the bill.

It’s finding this kind of talent that Celtic have thrived on in recent seasons and if they could somehow get a deal done it would go a long way to appeasing fans’ concerns that they short of personnel in the centre of defence.