The 24-year-old recently parted ways with Kerala Blasters in search of first-team action.

Kerala United are close to completing the signing of midfielder Arjun Jayaraj, Khel Now can confirm. The player recently parted ways with Indian Super League (ISL) club Kerala Blasters due to a lack of first-team action and will now join the newly-formed KUFC side, as they prepare to make their debut in the upcoming edition of the Kerala Premier League (KPL).

“Arjun Jayaraj is likely to join KUFC. Talks between the club and the player have reached an advanced stage,” a source close to the developments informed Khel Now. We have also learned that KUFC will offer the 24-year-old the role of the first-team captain.

Arjun Jayaraj began his professional career with Gokulam Kerala in 2017, after he scored against them in a friendly match for his university team. The midfielder debuted for his new side in the 2017-18 KPL and scored a goal in the final to help his team lift the title. He made his I-League debut the same season against Indian Arrows on December 22 and a month later, scored his maiden goal for the club – a 90th-minute winner against Shillong Lajong.

At the end of the 2018-19 season, Kerala Blasters signed Jayaraj for a transfer fee of ₹21 lacs. However, he suffered an injury during the pre-season. Eelco Schattorie – Kerala Blasters’ then head coach – was thus forced to exclude the player from their ISL squad, as he got ruled out of the entire season.

The COVID-19-enforced lockdown then played a role in Arjun’s delayed recovery, but he regained fitness in time for Kerala Blasters to include him in the pre-season squad that travelled to Goa ahead of the 2020-21 ISL. A month later, he was also included in the Blasters’ final squad for the league, but failed to make it into the matchday squads against ATK Mohun Bagan, NorthEast United and Chennaiyin FC.

With game-time looking unlikely for the remaining matches as well, the player decided to terminate his contract with the Yellow Army earlier this month.

Khel Now understands that another ISL club and a few I-Lea+gue teams have approached the player, but in the end Kerala United FC, have managed to lead the race to sign him. Formerly Quartz FC, the club was acquired by Premier League side Sheffield United’s owners ‘United World’ and it was they who rechristened it as ‘Kerala United.’

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This season, KUFC will be taking part in the KPL which will begin in April. The club also hope to play in the Second Division League next term and aspire to get promoted to the I-League and eventually the ISL, when the promotion-relegation system begins in the Indian top-flight. Under the tutelage of head coach Shajirudheen Koppalin, they have also signed over 20 players already, including former Kerala Blasters player Hrishi Dhath, ex-Gokulam Kerala and Garhwal FC midfielder Muhammed Shafeer and former Mohun Bagan U-18 starlet Lalthankhuma Duhvela.

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