Why Leicester City loaning out Filip Benkovic is an ideal move
Benkovic became the Foxes’ third loan exit on domestic deadline day after midfielders Matty James and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall both sealed temporary moves to the Championship with Barnsley and Luton Town respectively.
Filip Benkovic rose through the youth ranks of Dinamo Zagreb and made his first-team breakthrough during the 2015-16 season. He went on to establish himself as one of the best rising centre-backs in the Croatian top-flight, winning the domestic league and cup double twice over the course of three seasons at his boyhood club.
The 23-year-old also caught the eye in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, prompting Leicester City to splash a handsome £13million to acquire his services in the summer of 2018. He was loaned out to Celtic immediately upon his arrival at the King Power Stadium to enhance his development with regular game time.
Benkovic reached great heights during his loan spell at Parkhead under the stewardship of current Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers. After the Northern Irishman took charge in the East Midlands, the popular opinion was that the Benkovic was going to work his way into the manager’s plans in the Premier League.
However, it wasn’t really the case last season as the Croatian international featured just twice during the first half of the campaign before joining Bristol City on loan in the Championship. Benkovic made 10 league appearances for the Robins last term and now finds himself back in the second-tier with Cardiff City.
Loan move – A fair settlement for all parties?
Benkovic’s future was always going to be in doubt after Leicester City sealed a big-money move for French centre-back Wesley Fofana from St. Etienne on the international deadline day. Fofana’s arrival, coupled with the return of Daniel Amartey from a long-term injury, has handed a massive boost to the Foxes’ backline.
Leicester currently have enough cover in their central defensive unit, with regular starters Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans competing with the likes of Amartey, Wes Morgan, and Fofana for a place in the starting XI.
It is worth arguing that Benkovic could perhaps have been a better squad option than 36-year-old Wes Morgan but Rodgers never looked inclined to give the Croatian a fair crack of the whip. As per the report, the manager has made it clear that he sees no point in keeping players on the books if they aren’t ready to play in the Premier League.
Unfortunately, Benkovic seemingly falls in that bracket and the 23-year-old’s prospects of getting some decent game time under his belt looked really slim at the King Power Stadium. A loan move to Cardiff City, to that end, represents an ideal settlement for all parties involved as it would now allow Benkovic to further his development with regular minutes.
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It’s still unclear whether Filip Benkovic has been deemed surplus to requirements permanently or he is still a part of Rodgers’ plans moving forward. The fans will be hoping that the Croatian still has a future with the Foxes given his enormous potential, with Morgan and Evans nearing their twilight.
The Championship is a very competitive league and a productive loan spell in South Wales could well put him in good stead to stake a claim for a place in Leicester’s first-team next season.