Filip Benkovic has been an instant hit at Celtic Park since completing his loan move from Leicester this summer. The Croatian has revealed his decision to leave so soon after arriving was based on his desire to play first-team football.
Leicester paid £13m for the commanding centre half in August this year only to allow the player to join Celtic at the end of the same month. Benkovic has already established himself as a key player in Brendan Rodgers’ side, raising a few eyebrows over Leicester’s transfer policy.
Benkovic has now revealed that he originally signed for Leicester under the belief that Harry Maguire was set to complete his switch to Manchester United. It had been one of the rumours of the summer after Maguire enjoyed a standout World Cup with England.
Once that move didn’t materialise, the 21-year-old knew his first team opportunities would be limited at the King Power Stadium. Having signed to further his development, Benkovic did not want to spend a season on the bench and insisted on a loan move away.
Claude Puel rates Benkovic very highly and was happy for the player to seek first team football elsewhere to continue his progress. Celtic emerged as an ideal candidate after Rodgers’ side had failed to add a defensive stopper themselves in the transfer window.
“I made the transfer to Leicester but I saw their situation - they will play Maguire after they rejected Manchester United’s offer,” Benkovic told the Daily Record. “I looked at the situation realistically and wanted somewhere to have a better chance to play and to improve my game.”
“Had I stayed there I’d maybe have played some cup games - sometimes you must look to other places to get a chance because only with games can you get better and better.” He added.
Despite the quick turnaround in clubs, Benkovic insisted he is happy at Celtic and in particular heaped praise on defensive partner Dedryck Boyata.
“I was happy this move happened. It was maybe on the last day and I waited a long time but everything settled well and now I’m very happy.
“After playing together in my first game - I can learn because he’s [Boyata] a very experienced player. He’s played all his career at the top level and plays for Belgium, so I’m very happy to be at a team with these big players,” Benkovic concluded.