Celtic representatives jet out to secure last-gasp defender deal, talks underway - report
By Will Butcher
Celtic’s hierarchy have travelled to Croatia in order to thrash out a last-minute deal to sign Dinamo Zagreb defender Filip Benkovic, according to a report.
Croatian outlet 100 Posto claim that the 20-year-old defender has been a long-term target for Brendan Rodgers’ side, with Celtic looking to add a centre-back to their side.
It is believed Celtic are in talks to sign the three-time Croatia Under-21 international with just just hours remaining in the current transfer window.
The Daily Record claimed on Wednesday that Celtic had missed out on re-signing Belgium international from Jason Denayer, with the centre-back option to join Galatasaray instead of Manchester City.
Rodgers has been forced to field makeshift centre-backs Kieran Tierney and Nir Bitton as well as teenager Kristoffer Ajer at centre-back, due to an injury crisis in defence.
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Erik Sviatchenko and Dedryck Boyata are both suffering with long-term injuries, leaving just Jozo Simunovic as Celtic’s only established central defender.
Benkovic has made 52 first-team appearances in all competitions despite his young age, showing an aerial prowess which is second to none but offering plenty of composure when in possession of football.
It remains to be seen if the Hoops will be able to secure a deal, with five years remaining on the Dinamo Zagreb defender’s contract.
Football Insider verdict
Celtic must add a central defender to their squad before the deadline strikes, and luring Benkovic to Scotland would be an excellent signing for the Hoops. Showing huge promise at such an early stage of his career, Benkovic is only going to get better. Simunovic took the same route to Celtic, leaving Zagreb and joining the Hoops in 2015 and Benkovic should mirror the defender’s route by joining the 48-time Scottish champions and helping the side achieve a second successive treble as well as qualifying for European football after Christmas. A top signing, if Rodgers can get it over the line.
In other Celtic transfer news, a Hoops playmaker could leave before the deadline with a top-flight club in talks.