Indian Arrows goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem has quit the I-League team in an attempt to pursue a career in Europe. Dheeraj's contract with the Indian Arrows, the developmental squad of the All India Football Federation, was until the 31st of December 2017.
Dheeraj, who previously played for India at this year's U-17 World Cup, had been offered a three-year contract by the Arrows but chose not to sign the deal. "Right now Dheeraj feels he has reached whatever level he could in the age group stage in India. He wants to test himself against senior players at the elite level," his agent Anuj Kichlu says.
Dheeraj announced his decision to leave the Arrows in an Instagram post on Sunday. The post read: "Shared points with the mighty Mohun Bagan FC day before yesterday. It was my last match with the Arrows and a memorable day to finish off the year. Like always it's been an honour to play alongside such a wonderful and talented bunch of boys in Indian Arrows."
While Dheeraj has no contract in hand, he is keen on testing himself in Europe. His first stop will be at Scotland Premier League Club Motherwell FC. "Dheeraj will leave for Scotland as soon as he gets his visa. He will be part of trials at Motherwell FC. In addition, Dheeraj will also be part of evaluations at Blackburn Rovers, Charlton Athletic. We are in talks with West Ham too. We are also looking at clubs in Germany," says Kichlu.
Of the prospective clubs, Kichlu says Dheeraj's best chances are with Motherwell. "He will get a chance to train with the first team there. With the other clubs, he is mostly getting offers to trial with their age group or reserve teams," he says.
The Manipur-based goalkeeper is still a long way from a contract at any of these clubs. "Right now, Dheeraj is looking to test himself at a higher level. As someone who has just played a U-17 World Cup and coming from a country like India, it is unlikely any club will sign him immediately. It is also not possible to sign a contract in Europe because the transfer window is closed. This is more of a trial for clubs in Europe to get an idea of his potential," says Kichlu.
Dheeraj has been one of the stand out players for the Arrows, keeping two clean sheets in the six matches they have played in the I-League this season. Dheeraj played his final game for the Arrows on 29th December against Mohun Bagan. His performance -- one that earned him a man of the match award -- saw a ten-man Arrows hold on for a 1-1 draw against Bagan. Having lost their first-choice keeper, Arrows will face a stiff challenge for their remaining 12 matches this season.
Dheeraj's agent says he was hoping to complete the season with the Arrows but was denied by the AIFF. "Although the Arrows are a developmental team and it made no difference whether they finished on top or bottom of the league, we were in talks to see whether he could play the remaining three months of the I-League, but since every player with the Arrows had signed three year contracts, the AIFF did not want to give special treatment to any player," says Kichlu.