India's FIFA U17 World Cup star Dheeraj Moirangthem reportedly rejects AIFF offer, could sign for ISL or foreign club
The 5ft 9in custodian's future is still uncertain.
What's the story?
India's star at the FIFA U17 World Cup, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem has rejected a three-year contract from the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to be part of the federation's rebranded Pailan Arrows project in the I-League next season, according to reports from sources.
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The 17-year-old goalkeeper impressed all and sundry at the FIFA U17 World Cup but his efforts weren't enough to keep India in the competition. The lad from Manipur conceded nine goals in three matches but also made the third highest number of saves (16) in the group stage.
The heart of the matter
It is also believed that Dheeraj aside, two other members of the India U17 World Cup squad have refused to sign on the dotted lines. Komal Thatal is one and India's World Cup captain Amarjit Singh Kiyam is the other.
While the Colts are busy preparing for their AFC U19 Championship qualifiers starting 4th November, the heads of the aforementioned trio have reportedly been turned by better opportunities at other clubs. Given the AIFF's lacklustre attitude over the years, it is understandable that the players are contemplating other options before committing to the governing body's setup.
Dheeraj was linked to ISL outfit Kerala Blasters as soon as India's U17 World Cup campaign ended 12 days ago, while there were also noises of interest from foreign clubs like Borussia Monchengladbach and Galatasaray over the 5ft 9in custodian. He is currently looking at every option possible hence rejected the AIFF's advances.
The India U19 team that will take part in the AFC U19 Championship qualifiers has 17 players from the India U17 team that crashed out of the World Cup and all three of Dheeraj, Komal and Amarjit are in the squad. India start their qualification campaign on 4th November against hosts Saudi Arabia and will head to the UAE tomorrow to play a few practice matches before the qualifiers start.
Whether Dheeraj's future is sorted before the qualifiers start remains to be seen, but the player has every right to sift through all the offers in hand before committing to the AIFF's project.