ISL 2017: Premier League legend reveals ATK talks
Will he follow Robbie Keane to the Kolkata outfit?
What's the story?
A veteran of more than 450 English Premier League appearances, Shay Given has confirmed he has held talks with current Indian Super League champions ATK. The 41-year-old goalkeeper could be the second Irish international to come down to India for next season's ISL after Robbie Keane's signing by ATK earlier this month.
“It [moving to India] definitely wouldn’t be a door I’d shut. I said I’d speak to them [ATK] a bit later because that season doesn’t start until October. Robbie has just signed up so there would be somebody out there I’d know,” Given was quoted as saying by the Irish Mirror.
In case you didn't know...
Keane and Given are two of the highest appearance makers for the Republic of Ireland in international football. Both played together 90 matches for the Boys in Green.
ATK have made a big signing in Keane, but have been surprisingly quiet otherwise in the transfer window. They have reportedly smashed their budget to land Keane, therefore it comes as a surprise that they are targeting another big star.
Given has played for major Premier League clubs like Newcastle United and Manchester City in a storied career.
The heart of the matter
Given, 41, is not a spring chicken anymore but his experience could be priceless for ATK as they look to bag a hat-trick of ISL titles next season. The ISL has previously seen experienced foreign goalkeepers in the past who have turned out to be inspired selections. The names of David James and Graham Stack come to mind who led Kerala Blasters to the final in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
That said, the inclination of ATK to look for reinforcements in the British Isles stems from their appointment of the English duo of Teddy Sheringham and Ashley Westwood in charge of matters related to the team.
The Kolkata outfit retained Debjit Majumder - one of India's premier goalkeepers - before the domestic draft, hence their decision to go for Given is surprising.
ATK will look to defend their title in what will be the biggest ISL ever next season. The 2017-18 ISL campaign will feature ten teams, making it even more difficult for ATK to retain the big prize.
Unlike the Keane deal, Given is likely to be a foreign player instead of a marquee acquisition. While he will bring unmatches pedigree and experience for the ATK squad, his age means that he is not the 'keeper you'd want to lead a title challenge. Having said that, it remains to be seen how negotiations pan out between the two parties.