ISL 2017: Two-time ISL winner Fikru snubs ATK's advances
What's the story?
Two-time Indian Super League champion Fikru Teferra has reportedly snubbed the offer of a one-year contract from ISL holders ATK, according to close sources.
It is believed that an inability to meet his wage demands led to Fikru pulling out of a deal to rejoin his former club. The Ethiopian striker won the ISL title with the Kolkata outfit in 2014.
Fikru has been widely linked with a move to the ISL after his contract with South African side Highlands Park ended last month. He is currently a free agent and his representatives are actively on the lookout for the player's future employer.
Having completed their domestic signings during last month's draft, ISL clubs are now scouring the international market to complete their respective squads. ATK have not yet made a foreign signing, but they have been heavily linked with Irish striker Robbie Keane.
The heart of the matter
Fikru has a history with ATK, having scored five goals to lead the Red and Whites to the title in 2014. However, his conduct has been questionable and the striker was even banned during ISL-1 for headbutting an opponent. Such issues have forced the ATK think tank of Teddy Sheringham and Ashley Westwood to look elsewhere.
ATK were unwilling to meet Fikru's wage demands, with Westwood unsure whether the Ethiopian is a guaranteed return on investment given his past misdemeanours.
Fikru won the 2015 ISL title as well but managed to score just a single goal in his stint with Chennaiyin FC. Apparently, Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United are also queuing up to sign the 31-year-old behind ATK.
Although the Robbie Keane transfer hasn't yet been confirmed, reports suggest that the deal is all but sealed. However, the situation with Fikru is a complete contrast, with many sticking points to remove before anything gets finalised. As things stand, Fikru has slipped off ATK's radar, but two other clubs are also keeping tabs on the striker's situation.
The ISL starts on 17th November, but clubs will have pre-season tours well before that. Hence, having a full squad before pre-season training is of paramount importance since the ISL will be held over an extended duration this time out.
It remains to be seen which team Fikru ends up joining, but ATK signing him looks more and more unlikely with each passing moment.
ATK fans would love to have one of their past title winners back, but Sheringham and Westwood seem to have other ideas.