Kerala Blasters are undergoing a mini-injury crisis in their defence. With Sandesh Jhingan out injured and his replacement Raju Gaikwad also facing fitness issues, there is a need for more options in that position.Jairo Rodrigues was let go due to injury and while Gianni Zuiverloon recently came back to fitness, there is still a lack of depth in that part of the pitch. But having said that, the option of Abneet Bharti gives them an added boost.
Young Bharti’s career has already gone to a lot of places. Over the years, the defender has acquired the experience of playing in multiple parts of the world, with the journey currently taking him to India.
Still 21, Bharti is one of the very few Indian footballers who have had the experience of playing abroad. The likes of Bhaichung Bhutia, Sunil Chhetri and the Blues national team goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu are part of a select few to do so. Bhutia had a stint at Bury, while Chhetri had a spell at Sporting Lisbon. Sandhu, on the other hand, had a spell at Norwegian club Stabaek and also featured in the UEFA Europa League.
As for Bharti, a vast majority of his career has been spent outside India. His most recent spell was at Portuguese side Sintrense - the club responsible for the development of Barcelona right-back Nelson Semedo. A knee ligament injury though, hindered his progress at Sintrense just when he was looking to become a regular in the first-team.
A move to ISL side Kerala Blasters followed. This is his first ever ISL stint, but Bharti is yet to see any first-team football for the men in yellow. Similar knee issues and back injury problems have led to him not playing enough for his development. The young defender was part of the Blasters side that headed off to the Middle East for a pre-season training camp, but a back injury followed.
A centre-back by trade, Abneet is capable of playing at right-back too. It is unknown whether he will be used by current Blasters boss Eelco Schattorie, but the youngster is back to full fitness now. His selection in the first-team will certainly depend on Schattorie, but this is a player who has time on his hands. And at 21, he has to make sure his development isn’t hindered.
More than that, he brings a lot of experience to the plate. He’s had the crucial exposure of playing abroad since the tender age of 16, when he was at Singapore-based clubs Geylang and Balestier. This was followed by a move to Real Valladolid in Spain, before the Sintrense move came through.
Bharti’s current deal at Kerala Blasters expires at the end of the 2021 edition. With game time currently lacking despite him being fit, future prospects are very much unlimited at just 21 years of age.Published 20 Jan 2020, 16:01 IST