The full-back recently made his debut for the Indian football team after an impressive ISL 2020-21 season with NEUFC.
Indian Super League (ISL) outfit ATK Mohun Bagan have begun talks to sign Ashutosh Mehta from NorthEast United, Khel Now can confirm. The full-back has previously played for Mohun Bagan before the club merged with ATK last year.
“ATK Mohun Bagan are currently in talks with Ashutosh Mehta in an attempt to sign him from NorthEast United,” a source close to the developments informed Khel Now.
The 30-year-old began his football career with the now-defunct Mumbai FC. After five seasons with the club, he joined FC Pune City in 2014. The same year, he also made his ISL debut. He ended up making seven appearances for the Pune-based side. In 2015, he joined Mumbai City FC and played in 11 matches for them. He then went on to sign for I-League side Aizawl FC.
Mehta’s move to The People’s Club culminated with his first I-League win. The Mizoram-based club lifted the title in the 2016-17 season under the tutelage of Khalid Jamil. This also resulted in him earning a return to the Indian top-flight with ATK. He made 12 appearances for the Kolkata side in ISL 2017-18. The following season he returned to his former club Pune City. Subsequently, the defender went back to the I-League for a second stint – this time with Mohun Bagan.
At the Kolkata-based club, the right-back lifted his second league title under Kibu Vicuna in the 2019-20 season. He then re-united with Khalid Jamil at NorthEast United ahead of the recently concluded ISL 2020-21.
The Highlanders performed well beyond their expectations in the 2020-21 season, initially under Gerard Nus and later under Jamil. The club finished third in the league stage and booked a spot in the playoffs, where they surrendered to ATK Mohun Bagan across two legs. Mehta himself clocked 1406 minutes across 18 matches in ISL 2020-21, scoring once and also providing two assists. He was also a vital cog in the NEUFC defence during this period, ending his campaign with figures of 3.44 tackles, 1.28 interceptions, 2.78 clearances and 1.44 blocks per game.
ATK Mohun Bagan in the market
ATK Mohun Bagan, meanwhile, ended ISL 2020-21 as runners-up after losing to Mumbai City in the final. On Saturday the club announced the signing of Liston Colaco from Hyderabad FC on a record transfer fee. The Mariners have also handed a one-year extension to head coach Antonio Habas and are keenly pursuing the signatures of more players in a bid to further strengthen their squad.
As the number of foreign players in the squad are set to be reduced from next season, the Mariners’ think-tank are on the hunt for more domestic options. The plans to seal a free transfer deal with Mehta have hence sprung up, as the player’s contract with the Highlanders will be ending this summer. However, they are not the only ones in the fray. Cross-town rivals East Bengal and others are also understood to be tracking the defender.