Why Filip Benkovic could be a smashing signing for Derby County
According to the Derbyshire Live, Derby County have made Leicester City centre-back Filip Benkovic their No.1 target during the January transfer window, with the Rams keen to add another central defender to their ranks during the mid-season trading period.
As per the report, Derby are looking to bring in a couple of fresh faces before the transfer deadline at the end of the month, with a new attacking player/ winger and a centre-back understood to be high on manager Phillip Cocu’s wishlist.
While the Rams have also been linked with Tottenham defender Cameron Carter-Vickers and Oxford United star Rob Dickie, securing a loan deal for Benkovic remains a top priority for the Pride Park outfit. (h/t Derbyshire Live)
The 22-year-old, who joined Leicester City from Dinamo Zagreb back in the summer of 2018, has made only two first-team appearances for the Foxes in all competitions and is yet to make his Premier League debut for the club.
The Croatian international spent the entirety of the previous campaign on loan at Celtic north of the border where he was one of the key driving forces behind the Hoops’ ‘Treble Treble’ feat under current Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers, though, hasn’t been keen to rely on Benkovic since he took over the reins at the King Power Stadium, with Jonny Evans, Caglar Soyuncu and veteran Wes Morgan all above the Croatian in the pecking order.
The 22-year-old has a contract at the King Power Stadium until 2023 but his future remains up in the air due to his lack of involvement in the first-team and a temporary exit before the end of the January deadline would perhaps be in the best interests of all parties involved.
Meanwhile, Derby County currently sit 17th in the Championship standings, eight points shy of the top-six, after 26 games and it will require a herculean effort from the Rams during the second half of the season if an unlikely surge for the playoffs is to materialize.
Derby have won each of their last two games in the Championship against Charlton Athletic and Barnsley, with Wayne Rooney making a big impression on his debut in the latter fixture.
A 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace in the FA Cup on Sunday meant that the Rams continued their impressive start to life in 2020 and the fans at Pride Park will be hoping for a better run of results in the coming months after a mediocre first half of the campaign under Cocu.
A tally of 26 goals scored and 34 conceded in 26 games so far clearly adheres to Cocu seeking additional cover at both ends of the pitch. With loanees Kieran Dowell and Jamie Paterson departing the club in the ongoing window, Derby clearly need more creative options to aid their promotion push, but a new central defender also fits the bill.
The termination of Richard Keogh’s contract earlier in the campaign following the infamous car crash incident has left a massive void at the back. Curtis Davis, 34, has played a key role at the back this term after an injury-stricken campaign last time around, whilst Brighton loanee Matt Clarke has also shown his quality on a number of occasions.
However, with Clarke finding himself in and out of the team due to his struggles with injuries, and Cocu preferring to use Krystian Bielik in a holding midfield role rather than a central defensive one, the Rams can certainly do with some additional cover at the back.
To that end, securing a loan deal for Filip Benkovic in January could go a long way towards ensuring that Derby don’t find themselves short of options at the heart of the defence in the coming months, with fixtures set to come thick and fast during a brutal second half of the campaign.
The 22-year-old showed that he is a real talent during his loan spell at Celtic last season and while he hasn’t been able to break into Rodgers’ plans at Leicester, the Croatian remains a fine young central defender with plenty of potential.
Cocu has already illustrated his proficiency in working with young players since his appointment at Pride Park, with academy prospects like Max Bird, Jason Knight, Louie Sibley and Lee Buchanan all enjoying considerable involvement, and the Dutchman will undoubtedly fancy his chances of extracting the best out of Filip Benkovic.
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All in all, Derby County sealing a loan move for the out-of-favour Leicester City starlet could be a real coup and one that might well have a big positive impact on their promotion hopes.