CROATION Under-21 international defender Filip Benkovic, who arrived at Celtic from Leicester City on Friday, has revealed his loan period could be cut short.

The centre-half, who cost the Midlands side £13million from Dinamo Zagreb in the summer, also admitted he turned down the opportunity of temporary stays at clubs in Spain, Italy and Germany to move to the champions.

Brendan Rodgers’ plan is for Benkovic to remain at Parkhead for the entire campaign, but the manager’s hopes could be scuppered.

The classy 21-year-old back-four operator said: “I was at Leicester for three weeks and it was great. The price tag was nothing to do with me.

“But I didn’t want to spend all season on the bench, so I spoke to the manager and told him how much I respect the club, but I want to improve and the only way to do that is to get games,

“I’m young, I need the minutes on the park and the manager agreed with me.

“I want to play as much as possible, so a season-long loan with Celtic was agreed and Leicester has the option of recalling me in the winter.

“There were other loan options – clubs in Italy, Spain and Germany, but I just wanted to go to Celtic.

“I think this is the best option for me for preparing for football in England and their Premier League – that’s why I am delighted to go to Celtic.

“Because Leicester didn’t sell Harry Maguire, I knew this would be what happened to me. Going to Celtic gives me up to a year to adapt to British football so I am looking at this loan very positively.”

Benkovic added: “Brendan Rodgers is a very big name in football. We had a discussion and I am delighted to be working with such a football expert.

“He told me he’s been following my career for a while, so it is great to work with him.

“Celtic are still one of the great names in European football and they have a massive fan base.

“The stadium is always full and they have supporters all over the world.

For their fans, Celtic is a way of life. It’s a privilege to be here.

“I think this is a great stage for me. My goal is not to be sitting in the stands, I want to play and I think this was a good decision for me to come here.”

And Benkovic is looking forward to teaming up with an old friend.
He said: “I already know Jozo Simunovic – we played a couple of games together at Dynamo


“I only just broke through into the first team and he was already there.

“I have obviously spoken a lot with him to find out about Celtic.

“Unfortunately, he has an injury just now, but he should be back shortly.

“Who knows? Hopefully, we may have two Croats in the centre of the Celtic defence soon.”

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