I-League side East Bengal are set to sign former Kerala Blasters duo CK Vineeth and Rino Anto, sources claim. Vineeth and Anto have played together for Bengaluru FC Ashley Westwood's reign in the early days of the Bengaluru-based club.
Reunion at East Bengal
CK Vineeth began playing football with Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) and Chennai Customs in departmental tournaments before making his senior team debut with Chirag United in the 2011-12 I-League.
Vineeth joined Bengaluru FC on loan in their inaugural season, in 2013, under Ashley Westwood. Vineeth's tenure with Bengaluru FC saw him rise exponentially and he earned a permanent contract to stay in the electronic city till the end of the 2016-17 season.
CK Vineeth was part of Bengaluru's I-League winning squads in 2013-14 and 2015-16. He scored 14 goals in 54 official games for Bengaluru FC in the I-League, Federation Cup and AFC Cup.
His exploits for the Blues saw him spend loan spells at Kerala Blasters in the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Indian Super League. Vineeth made a move to the Blasters on a permanent deal in 2017. After 42 games for Kerala Blasters, he made a short-season loan move to Chennaiyin FC before joining Jamshedpur FC in the 2019-20 Indian Super League season. CK Vineeth was the highest-paid Indian footballer, ahead of the likes of Sunil Chhetri in the 2018-19 Indian Super League season.
Vineeth's recent seasons have been plagued with injuries and suspensions which has forced managers to use him in cameos in the second-half in key matches as the Kannur-born lad was not fit enough to play the entire 90 minutes. Vineeth also has 7 caps for the Indian men's football team but is yet to score any goals.
'Vineeth has been in touch with East Bengal for a long time now. Hyderabad and Odisha also approached him. The deal should go through as East Bengal have the best offer on table', a source close to the development revealed.
Rino Anto graduated from the famed Tata Football Academy and joined Mohun Bagan. After an average spell of three years at the Mariners, Anto moved to Salgaocar seeking game time. Anto spent a season at Kerala-based side Quartz FC in the Kerala Premier League before returning to the top division with Bengaluru FC in 2013.
He was part of both the I-League winning squads of Bengaluru FC along side CK Vineeth. After 80 games for the Blues, Anto moved to Kerala Blasters in the 2017-18 season followed by two loan spells at ATK and Blasters. Anto returned to Bengaluru FC in the 2018-19 season but has failed to make a mark under Albert Roca and Carles Cuadrat.
Both Vineeth and Anto have been out of form in the recent few seasons in the Indian Super League and a move to a club like East Bengal can help restart their playing careers with considerable playing time. East Bengal are looking to play in the Indian Super League which could just be an icing on the cake for the Kerala duo.