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According to a report from the People (via Daily Star), Tottenham Hotspur are interested in signing Dinamo Zagreb defender Filip Benkovic in the summer. The 20-year old is valued at £13.5 million by the Croatian club and is on Spurs’ manager Mauricio Pochettino’s radar as he looks to make his first signing of the summer.
However, they are set to face competition in their approach for the promising defender, as the Daily Mail reports that fellow Premier League outfit West Bromwich Albion have submitted an official enquiry to Dinamo Zagreb regarding the availability of Benkovic.
Last week it was also reported by Italian outlet Calcio Mercato that Premier League giants Arsenal and Chelsea were also scouting the defender, along with Serie A club Inter Milan. With so much interest surrounding the youngster, let’s take a closer look at who exactly Filip Benkovic is and why he is being pursued by so many clubs.
Born in Zagreb, Croatia, on 13 July 1997, Benkovic joined the Dinamo Zagreb youth academy as a 10-year old in 2008. The centre-back was highly rated in the youth ranks and rose rapidly through the youth sides, to break into the U-17 team in 2012 as a 15-year old, and two years later into the U-19 side. He became a part of the senior team of Dinamo in the 2015/16 season.
Benkovic made his debut for the Croatian outfit on 19 July 2015, against NK Osijek, as an 18-year old. He went on to make 18 appearances for the senior team in his debut season, winning the domestic league and cup. Three of his appearances came in the UEFA Champions League. He cemented his place as a regular in the team in 2016/17 season, making 28 appearances for the club – 10 in the Champions League (qualifying rounds included), scoring 2 goals and setting up 2 more.
With the Croatian 1.HNL (top tier) already underway, he has made 2 appearances in the 2017/18 campaign, scoring a solitary goal.
A regular at all youth levels for the Croatian national team, Benkovic is yet to make his senior debut, but is currently part of the U-21 setup and has made 2 appearances for the Colts.
An out and out centre-half, Benkovic has earned a reputation for his excellent situational awareness and ball playing abilities.
Standing at 6ft 4in, he poses a daunting image for any striker and has been called as ‘Big Ben’ by the Dinamo Zagreb fans. Owing to his tall presence, he is a huge asset while defending set-pieces and a major threat in the opposition boxes as well. Despite his height and physical stature, the 20-year old possesses a good turn of pace and acceleration. His composure and comfort with the ball at his feet help him carry the ball out from the back, more often than not.
A very good reader of situations, Benkovic has the ability to make crucial interceptions to break up the play and is a strong tackler as well, while he has also displayed very good traits of being a tight man-marker. A reliable defender with tactical awareness, athleticism and anticipation, Benkovic backs it up with strong qualities when on the ball and exudes great confidence for his age.
Benkovic has a contract until the summer of 2022, putting Dinamo in a strong position when it comes to negotiations. However, with so much interest surrounding the player from several top clubs, a summer move cannot be ruled out at all at this point.
Chances will be hard to come by for the 20-year old at Tottenham, with the likes of Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Eric Dier all ahead of him in the pecking order. So in terms of playing time, a move to West Bromwich Albion might appeal more. However, a chance to work with one of the best young managers in Mauricio Pochettino will also play on his mind. But, a move to the Premier League is very much on the horizon before the transfer window closes.