Leicester City’s Filip Benkovic has been included in both the Europa League and Premier League squads. It looks like the Foxes’ forgotten defender will get his chance.
It is perhaps a surprise to see Benkovic in the Leicester squad for some. Let us take a look at his journey and where he appears to be going under Brendan Rodgers.
Leicester City’s Croatian CB
The 24-year-old defender was once a prodigy talent brought in from Dinamo Zagreb for around £13 million, with the intention of taking to the first team after getting more experience.
His opportunity to develop was given to him while on loan at Celtic under Rodgers.
For the 18/19 season, ‘Benko’ was handed 19 appearances in the league. According to Transfermarkt, he accumulated two goals and one assist for Celtic.
As Smarterscout‘s stats show, from that season as a left-sided centre-back, he offered four brilliant talents.
With a score of 99/100 for ball recovery (tracking back), an 88/100 for aerial challenging, an 84/100 for ball retention (keeping the ball under pressure), and an 81/100 for defensive quality.
It is clear that he reached his best form at Celtic, playing dominating and possessive football under the Foxes’ current head coach. These stats may be only stylistic indications, but they show he suits our system very well.
However, that was one season, and the following three seasons were lacklustre for his development. He got few appearances for the ‘Robins’ of Bristol City before the failed loan spells at Cardiff City and OH Leuven. The imposing player has only registered two appearances for Leicester City. So, what can Benko hope for?
Filip Benkovic’s lifeline
As reported in LeicestershireLive, Filip Benkovic has been included in both Premier League and Europa League squads.
There are several reasons for his inclusion; so, let us recount a couple: most importantly, the injury crisis which threatened to unravel the opening quarter of the season – from league to cups – necessitated his remain at the King Power.
Secondly, Rodgers claims that the Croatian defender has mentally shifted. After being involved with first team training and being more a part of the team, he has become more professional and focused on his development.
Some would claim him the sixth choice when all are available, but I would strongly differ. Unlike Daniel Amartey, he is an actual centre-back and has proven quality over a prolonged time at Celtic.
It is also no surprise that the gaffer believes he can rekindle the young centre-back to how he performed while on loan at Celtic. He will need time and trust, but the potential is there.
I expect starts in the cups and Europa League as the King Power side look to build their talented defender into a towering beast.