Robbie Keane

ISL 2017-18: Has Robbie Keane been an expensive flop at ATK?

Robbie Keane’s last competitive fixture for LA Galaxy was on November 6th, 2016. He had a decent season where he scored 10 goals in 20 matches. His next competitive game was on December 7th, 2017 in Chennai where he played for a total of 35 minutes.

The highest goal scorer for Republic of Ireland has played a total of 434 minutes in the ISL. He has started in four matches and lasted the entire game on three occasions. The 37-year-old has netted twice and has spent more time on the sidelines than on the field. Interestingly, he has been allowed to undergo recuperation and have an extended holiday in England than in the City of Joy.
ATK, the reigning champions, spent the maximum in the summer in order to build a strong team to defend their title. Robbie Keane was at the centre of their plans given that the player was paid handsome wages.

However, his signing has made little sense given the output.

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In season one, Luis Garcia played a total of 936 minutes, scored two goals and his overall impact was massive. Helder Postiga scored twice in the opener of season two and was sidelined for the rest of the games. However, the Portuguese forward amassed a game-time of 806 minutes in the third season where he returned as a marquee player once again. Although he didn’t score as many as he would have liked (just two goals) but his performances weren’t poor either.

In comparison, you have got to question the commitment of Keane. Unlike Dimitar Berbatov, who only spent two days back home for his birthday celebrations while in recuperation, Keane has only needed a reason to be away from the team.


The ‘Namaste’ celebration aside, he has done little to make himself a crowd favourite. The marquee signing has been a flop which once again begs the question: why do clubs bring players who aren’t committed to their project in the first place?

There is a common notion prevalent that Indian players tend to learn under the mentorship of marquee signings. Jamshedpur FC coach Steve Coppell, who is easily amongst the most experienced managers in the ISL, shared his thoughts on the same.

"No, I don’t think that is the case. Indian players can learn from all the international players. They learn the mentality, they learn the discipline. As I said there have been many marquee players who have not performed very well. 

"I don’t think marquee players are needed to develop football in India. I think what you need in terms of international players is that players who have a good influence. I think there have been lot of marquee players who have been excellent. There has been quite a few who have not been excellent. They didn’t perform at the level it was expected and I think the man at the club should decide how they allocate their funds. I don’t think there should be any preference for a marquee position," Coppell told Goal.

He couldn't be more correct in his analysis.