‘It is better to play regularly in second division’ – Arjun Jayaraj ready for a restart at Kerala United | Goal.com
Arjun Jayaraj has joined Kerala United after agreeing to mutually terminate contract with Kerala Blasters…
A few weeks ago, Arjun Jayaraj returned home after terminating his contract with Indin Super League (ISL) club Kerala Blasters.
Arjun was inside a bio-bubble in Goa for a couple of months as a Kerala Blasters player and for someone who had already been sidelined for several months, it was not easy.
The 24-year-old midfielder had signed a three-year deal with Kerala Blasters in 2019 but couldn’t make a single appearance for the Yellow Army.
The player, for whose signature Blasters paid a transfer fee to Gokulam Kerala, suffered an ankle injury at the beginning of the 2019-20 season and had to be excluded from the squad for ISL 2019-20 by then-coach Eelco Schattorie.
Following a long drawn out process of surgery and rehabilitation, the player joined the squad in Goa to prepare for the 2020-21 season of Indian Super League (ISL) but ultimately had to decide to mutually terminate his contract. He wanted to make a comeback in his career and for that, he needed to play regularly.
The player chose to accept an offer from Kerala United, owned by the United Group that also owns Premier League club Sheffield United, hoping to embark on a new journey.
“The situation inside a bio-bubble was hard to accept. The second floor, dining hall and the meeting room are the only places you can access. It helps to go out and relax to take time off stress during games but the players have started to adjust after the season began. With matches coming thick and fast, the focus shifts to that. Pre-season was more difficult,” Arjun revealed what it is like to spend time inside a bio-bubble to Goal.
“When I left, I had many offers. But I-League clubs had already started pre-season. Kerala United contacted me after seeing my profile from when I played for Gokulam Kerala.
“I have had a gap of two years so I wanted to go to a club which had coaches and players I knew and am familiar with so that I can play more games and be more confident. The training ground is six kilometres away from my home. I want to stay in the comfort zone and play more games and gain confidence before playing in a league with more intensity. They are starting a new club from Malappuram, my home, so that’s a good thing as well,” the player said.
Kerala United are set to begin their preparations for the I-League second division in January and Arjun is fit and ready for a fresh challenge.
“I felt okay during practice sessions and trained in pre-season for two months and played in friendly matches. I played with my friends here. I am close to full match fitness. Match fitness can be improved only by playing matches. I am training alone for now.”
Arjun’s decision to join a second division side may be confusing for some but it was all about getting regular game time for the midfielder who is only 24 years old and last played a professional game in March 2019 for Gokulam Kerala in the I-League.
“Every player wants to play at the top level. But it is better to play in a second division or any other league than not play in a top league. We need games, there are players who haven’t played for more than a season. It is frustrating to sit at home injured and it is even more difficult when you are not injured and not playing.”
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