ISL 2017: Kerala Blasters reportedly close to signing former Real Madrid and Arsenal star
What's the story?
According to reports, Kerala Blasters are close to reaching an agreement with former Real Madrid and Arsenal striker Julio Baptista. The 35-year-old has been without a club since January this year when he left Major League Soccer outfit Orlando City.
This news comes amid reports that former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov has already joined the Kochi-based outfit.
In case you didn't know...
Baptista is one of the most well-known Brazilian forwards of the past decade, having featured for the likes of Real Madrid, Arsenal, AS Roma and Sevilla among others. The Sao Paolo Academy graduate has played 48 times for the Brazil national team and scored five times for O Canarinhos.
The heart of the matter
The report linking Baptista to Kerala Blasters comes as a surprise considering there are only two foreign spots to fill in the squad. Having already roped in two overseas strikers in Iain Hume and Mark Sifneos, head coach Rene Meulensteen is on the lookout for another goalscoring option, which is believed to be Berbatov.
Hence, the news of the club reaching an agreement with the Brazilian, who has scored 93 club career goals, doesn't connect the dots.
That said, Baptista has loads of experience at the elite level and will be another marquee addition to the Blasters squad should he put pen to paper.
The deadline day for ISL transfers is the end of this month but free agents can be signed outside the transfer window. Baptista was released by Orlando City during the January transfer window and is currently a free agent without a club.
The 2017-18 Indian Super League campaign starts on 17th November and teams are expected to head for their preseason camps a month ago. Kerala Blasters, having appointed the Dutchman Meulensteen, will most likely head to the Netherlands for their preseason camp.
Whether signing Baptista will improve Kerala Blasters remains to be seen, but alternative information suggests that the Brazilian is a contingency arrangement from the club in case the Berbatov deal falls through at the last minute, which is an unlikely prospect.
Having played at some of the top clubs in the world, Baptista has experience at the highest level and will be an invaluable addition to any ISL side, not least Kerala Blasters.