Everything you need to know about reported Middlesbrough, Bristol City and Celtic target Filip Benkovic
Middlesbrough are reportedly in pole position to sign Leicester City centre-back Filip Benkovic on loan – but who is he?
We take a closer look at the 22-year-old Croat who could be moving to the Riverside in the next few days.
What’s his background?
Benkovic came through the ranks at Dinamo Zagreb and made 25 league appearances for the Croatian club in the 2017/18 season.
His performances prompted Leicester to spend a reported £13million on the centre-back, who signed a five-year deal at the King Power Stadium in 2018.
Benkovic was immediately loaned out to Scottish giants Celtic for the season and became a regular under Brendan Rodgers in the SPL.
An ankle injury in the second half of the campaign curtailed his progress, though, and the centre-back has made just one appearance in the FA Cup since returning to Leicester.
What are his strengths?
At 6 ft 4, Benkovic provides an obvious aerial threat and is a commanding figure at the back.
He is also comfortable stepping out from the back and passing the ball into midfield.
Reports from his previous clubs suggest the Croatian many be vulnerable to balls in behind, yet the 22-year-old has already made over 100 first-team appearances for Zagreb and Celtic.
Why hasn’t he been playing for Leicester?
The departure of Harry Maguire to Manchester United left a void in the Foxes’ backline in the summer.
Unfortunately for Benkovic, the Croat picked up an injury while playing for his country at the European Under-21 Championships in the summer and missed a large part of pre-season.
Turkish centre-back Caglar Soyuncu, 23, has since formed an impressive partnership with Jonny Evans at the back for Leicester, meaning Benkovic’s game time has been reduced.
What’s been said about him?
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers is a fan of Benkovic after working with the player at Celtic.
And despite the defender’s lack of game time, the Foxes boss says Benkovic has acted professionally this season.
“He’s been good,” said Rodgers when asked about the player back in October.
“For Filip, it’s a very difficult position for him. He’s fighting every day to be fitter and stronger.”