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Kerala Blasters confirm Sandesh Jhingan is leaving, retire no. 21 jersey

Sandesh Jhingan made 76 appearances for Kerala Blasters in the ISL. Sandeep Shetty / ISL / SPORTZPICS

Indian Super League team Kerala Blasters on Thursday said they were retiring the number 21 jersey worn by Sandesh Jhingan as a tribute, after confirming the player was leaving the club.

On Wednesday, it was reported that Jhingan was set to part ways with Blasters amid interest from overseas clubs, having made 76 appearances during his six years with the team.

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank Sandesh for his commitment, loyalty, and passion for the club and its supporters. KBFC respects Sandesh's desire to pursue a new challenge and we wish him all the best for this new journey," club owner Nikhil Bharadwaj said in a statement. "We know that he will always remain a Blaster at heart. As a tribute to his contributions to the club, we will be permanently retiring his jersey number 21," he added.

ESPN understands that Jhingan has been in touch with clubs from UK and Australia, though India's low FIFA ranking rules him out of the former. There are also reports of a possible move to Qatar. Even the Blasters tweet on Thursday didn't confirm his next destination.

The centre-back won the 'Emerging Player of the Year' award in the inaugural ISL season, as he led Blasters to the final. He cemented his place down the years, and was named club captain in 2018-19.

Last August the 26-year-old suffered an ACL injury that kept him on the sidelines for the whole of the 2019-20 season, in which Kerala Blasters finished seventh. Jhingan, who has 36 caps for the national team, also missed much of India's FIFA qualifiers over that period.