Sandesh Jhingan, who left Indian Super League (ISL) side Kerala Blasters this summer after a six-year stay, has been tipped by the senior national team assistant coach Venkatesh Shanmugam to look abroad for his new club.
The 27-year-old centre-back has been linked to a move to ATK Mohun Bagan by the media, but Shanmugam wants him to follow in the footsteps of his teammates Sunil Chhetri and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
“I strongly feel this is the right time for him to go and play outside India. It’s a big surprise that he is still playing in India,” Venkatesh told AIFF TV.
“Whatever Sandesh has achieved so far is entirely because of his hard work. Sandesh is a committed player and wants to play every game. He is a fighter, a leader, and very patient. We need characters like him in the team.”
“When people ask how we can make the Indian team better — I would say that more players should play for clubs outside India. And for Sandesh, I think this the right time,” he added.
Shanmugam also believes that Chennaiyin’s Anirudh Thapa has what it takes to succeed in international clubs. Ever since he broke into the scene in 2017, the 22-year-old midfielder has made 24 appearances for the national team.
“Not only Sandesh, but also [Anirudh] Thapa has the potential to play outside India. They are good enough. By mentioning outside India, I am not always hinting at European leagues. I only hope 8-9 players go out and play — maybe in the J-League, the league in the UAE, the K-League, or elsewhere,” said Venkatesh.
“Mahesh [Gawli], Jules [Alberto], myself — we all received offers to play outside. I had an offer from a J-League 2nd division league, but somehow I didn’t take the plunge. We lacked adequate knowledge.”
Earlier, former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia had plied his trade abroad when he played for England’s Bury for three years from 1999 to 2002. Chhetri had a short stint in Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon reserve side in 2012, and Gurpreet played for Norway’s Stabaek from 2014 to 2017.
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