ISL Transfers: Dheeraj Singh to join two-time champions ATK
Dheeraj Singh came into the limelight with his performances in the U-17 World Cup 2017 held in India. The player hailing from Manipur then had a stint with Indian Arrows in the I-League, where he continued to show his excellence under the post. Before the 2018-19 season, he was roped in by Kerala Blasters and became the club's first-choice keeper under David James. For Blasters, Dheeraj played 13 games and kept 4 clean sheets along with 32 saves. The young lad was one among the very few positives, the club could take out of the horrible season.
Dheeraj's departure was certain as Blasters had added numerous other goalkeepers to their squad. The Kerala outfit had already made official the signings of Bilal Khan, Lalthuammawia Ralte and Lovepreet Singh. NorthEast United custodian TP Rehenesh too is rumoured to join the side soon.
The 18-year-old keeper was considered a very valuable player in the Indian transfer market as a number of clubs were known to have shown interest in him. However, only ATK was successful in closing down the deal. Ahead of Dheeraj's signing, Debjit Majumder had been loaned out to his former club Mohun Bagan. This means that ATK currently has Dheeraj, Arindam Bhattacharya and Avilash Paul as their men under the bars. With Arindam not being up to the mark in his duties in the previous season, ATK has opted for a safer pair of hands.
The Kolkata squad has been undergoing a major revamp and might have even more fresh names under the hood. They had earlier acquired the services of manager Antonio Habaz, with whom they won their first ISL cup, in 2014. ATK has also roped in Michael Soosairaj, Michael Regin and Irish defender Carl McHugh.
Arindam might have to sacrifice his spot to Dheeraj under Habaz' tactics. The former only has pale chances on his future at the club. Even if he stays, the Kolkata player is very unlikely to be chosen ahead of the expensive buy. There will be huge expectations on the young shoulders of Dheeraj Singh as ATK aims at regaining the ISL trophy.