The Bengaluru FC center-back recently quoted ‘personal reasons’ to not be part of the AFC commitments.

28-year-old John Johnson and Sunil Chhetri were the leading lights for JSW Bengaluru FC’s heralded small-yet-glorious footballing journey. Having played for the Bengaluru-based club every season since its inception, the former Middlesbrough centre-back is unsettled and wants to reunite with the manager who brought him to the Indian sub-continent, Khel Now sources close to developments understand.

The Blues’ defensive mainstay was recently part of the pre-season in Spain but did not commit to AFC Cup commitments with ‘personal reasons’. The source also said that the talisman is unhappy with the team’s management and has had discussions with Westwood over signing a contract with two-time ISL winners ATK in the January transfer window.

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After the announcement of the 25-member BFC squad for the AFC Cup, manager Albert Roca had said, ““Johnson’s absence is a massive blow for us, but we are aware of his situation and it was the right decision to make for us to let him be at home. It is unfortunate for us, but his return for the club’s ISL campaign will be a boost.” The source added that Johnson is close to making up his mind on his return to the Blues for an extended period.

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Johnson had won the I-league Defender of the Year’ in 2015 and has already lifted the title twice. Alongside that, the strong tackler has also won two Federation Cup titles, and reached the finals of the AFC Cup last year, only losing to Air Force Club 1-0. Johnson last signed a two-year deal with the Blues back in 2016, which keeps him at the club till 2018. According to the source, ATK could be interested to pay a transfer fee and lure him away from the Sree Kanteerava.  

The whole scenario looks similar to Diego Costa’s conundrum at Chelsea. The player has denied to return to training and play for the club if a move to Atletico Madrid is not approved. In these circumstances, though, money and a transfer to play under a known coach look to be a strong motive for Johnson. His strong relationship is not unknown to the footballing circles. It was also reported earlier that Johnson played the last season with a broken rib with painkillers.