Filip Benkovic has revealed why he decided to turn down the chance to return to Celtic in favour of a move to OH Leuven.
Celtic supporters are no strangers to Filip Benkovic. The Croatian spent a season at Parkhead and although injuries were a concern, he did become a fan favourite due to his no nonsense style of football.
As a result, when rumours broke out that the club could try to sign him on a loan in January, most probably welcomed the news. At the end of the day, he is someone who has proven that he can get it done in Scottish football and a solid defender is something that the Hoops are lacking badly right now.
Christopher Jullien is out injured for the foreseeable future while Shane Duffy looks like a mistake waiting to happen whenever he features. Thus, Benkovic would have probably been a shrewd signing.
Ultimately, that did not end up happening though as the Croatian turned down the chance to return to Parkhead in favour of a loan stint at Belgian side OH Leuven. And now he has revealed his reason for doing so. As reported by the Daily Record, the defender said:
“I really liked being at Celtic. I felt very happy and had a very good season, we won the title and two cups.
“I am still very proud of that. But the ambitions of this club and the conversation with the coach convinced me to take this step.
“I hardly played at Cardiff City in recent months. They didn’t speak much to me there. When I asked why I barely played, I was told they were quite happy with me.
“But in the end, the coach opted again for the guys who were there last season. It made no sense to stay there.
“Here I want to make a fresh start and find my best form.”
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Funnily enough, ambition is something that the Celtic board have been accused of lacking in recent times. And their current position in the Premiership table provides proof of that.
Coming back to the matter of Benkovic though, the Croatian has hardly played since leaving Parkhead. He failed to break into Brendan Rodgers’ first-team plans and then just made one appearance while away on loan at Cardiff City in the first half of the season. As a result, it cut short and he was sent to OH Leuven.
Benkovic might have felt that the Belgian side provided him with a better opportunity at first-team football, which is what he is looking for right now above anything else. And perhaps he just wanted to experience playing in a different country. Whatever may be the case, Celtic have to turn their attention towards other centre-backs now as they cannot afford to not sign one in this window.