ISL 2017: Former Liverpool striker Robbie Keane reportedly set to sign for ATK after snubbing England options
What's the story?
Former Republic of Ireland international Robbie Keane has agreed to join Indian Super League champions ATK, according to a report in the Irish Sun.
Earlier, Sportskeeda reported that Keane was in talks with several ISL clubs, Kerala Blasters included, but it seems the attraction of working under and with his former teammate at Tottenham Hotspur Teddy Sheringham, who is the ATK head coach, has brought him to Kolkata.
ATK, along with NorthEast United, haven't yet signed any foreign players. Both teams have completed their domestic signings in the draft last month, and it remains to be seen what the future unfolds for the two teams. In total, 18 overseas signings have been made so far by eight ISL clubs, with Bengaluru FC roping in the most with five.
The heart of the matter
Keane, 37, has reportedly snubbed offers from clubs in the English Championship to make the move to India, citing the tiring schedule of the 46-game English league as the deal-breaker. In the ISL, despite its expansion this year, the workload is significantly lesser with only ten teams fighting for the league compared to the Championship's 24.
Should he put pen to paper on an ATK deal, it will be his first stint in Asian football. Keane last played for Los Angeles Galaxy in the Major League Soccer. The former Liverpool man has been a prolific player in his career, having been the highest active international goalscorer at one point. He also featured for the Republic of Ireland at Euro 2016.
Keane's imminent arrival would be greeted warmly by the ATK faithful. The Kolkata outfit have always been known to spend big. They were the second highest spenders in the ISL draft and should the land Keane, it will be the biggest marquee acquisition of ISL-4.
Next season's ISL kick starts on 17th November later this year. WIth ten teams playing for the first time in the popular franchise league, the forthcoming season promises to be the biggest ever.
At 37, many would be inclined to brand Keane as a spent force, but he has scored goals everywhere he has played during an illustrious career. He has scored more than 300 goals in his career, so expect him to hit the ground running in Indian football.
A look at his former clubs - Inter Milan, Celtic, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur - suggests that Keane will arrive with a big reputation to India.