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Indian Football Transfers: Kerala Blasters' Dheeraj Singh set for ATK move?

EXPERT COLUMNIST
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6.79K   //    17 May 2019, 17:36 IST

Dheeraj Singh, Kerala Blasters goalkeeper
Dheeraj Singh, Kerala Blasters goalkeeper

The future of Dheeraj Singh with Kerala Blasters is up in the air. Sportskeeda has learnt that the young goalkeeper, who was India's No 1 during the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup, is in advanced talks with ATK for a permanent move.

Dheeraj became one of India's high-profile keepers after his heroics for the national team at the U-17 World Cup. His work under the bar has been impressive in the last two seasons, and this has made him a sought-after goalkeeper in Indian football presently.

After Blasters roped in Lovepreet Singh from Indian Arrows in the transfer window, they are rumoured to be signing Real Kashmir's Bilal Khan as well in the coming days. This is mainly due to Dheeraj considering his future options in the Indian Super League (ISL) and ATK has emerged as a front-runner to recruit him.

ATK could replace both their keepers for the next ISL season with the Kolkata club set to undergo a complete overhaul of its coaching staff, having parted ways with coach Steve Coppell.

Arindam Bhattacharya, the first-choice at ATK, could depart with Debjit Majumder's future also looking bleak at the club. ATK is yet to be convinced about promoting the third goalkeeper Avilash Paul.

With ATK on the lookout for a right fit, Dheeraj is now a front-runner to replace Bhattacharya as the custodian for the next ISL season.

Dheeraj initially shared the goalkeeping duties with Naveen Kumar (now with FC Goa) but later took over as the first-choice custodian, making 13 appearances throughout this ISL season. Facing 51 shots on target, Dheeraj conceded 19 goals. That figure would have been higher if not for his acute reflexes and smart positioning between the goalposts.

This has seen him produce 32 saves for Blasters in a season that saw them finish one spot from the bottom.

Dheeraj featured for Indian Arrows right after the U-17 World Cup. He had a training stint with Scottish club Motherwell FC, but stringent rules for work permits in the United Kingdom (UK) denied him a chance to play there.

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Foreigners looking to play in the UK should feature in at least 75 per cent of the competitive matches for two years in their native country, and the country of origin should be in the top 70 of the FIFA rankings.

It was then that Dheeraj, who trained with Blasters before his Scotland assignment, signed a deal with the Kochi-based outfit.

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