Aston Villa have confirmed the release of trailblazing midfielder Arjan Raikhy.
Raikhy, who is reportedly a transfer target for Wolves and Leicester, shot to prominence after a wonder goal against Chelsea for Villa’s U18s back in November 2020.
The technically-gifted midfielder made his senior first-team debut just two months later in an FA Cup third-round tie against Liverpool, a moment described by supporters’ group Punjabi Villans as “incredible”.
Raikhy ended a memorable season by setting up Ben Chrisene’s opener in a 2-1 victory against Liverpool as Villa’s U18s lifted the FA Youth Cup.
The Sikh-Punjabi enjoyed another productive campaign the following season as he earned the distinction of helping two teams – Stockport County and Grimsby Town – get promoted back to the Football League during two separate loan spells.
Despite impressing for Villa during their winter break in Dubai ahead of last year’s World Cup, Raikhy is one of eight players – including Ashley Young and Jed Steer – to have been released ahead of next season.
Suliman and Khan set to play for Pakistan away at India
Meanwhile, former Aston Villa defender Easah Suliman and Grimsby Town midfielder Otis Khan are line to play for Pakistan against hosts India in their opening match at the South Asian Football Federation Championship, kicking off next week.
Pakistan government officials have sent a No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the country’s federation, paving the way for the Shaheens to compete in the tournament and allaying fears they may not be able to participate.
Defending champions India host Pakistan at the Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday, with the last meeting between the two sides coming at the SAFF Championship back in 2018 ending in a 3-1 win for India.
Pakistan, who are currently ranked almost 100 places below in India in the FIFA rankings, missed the last SAFF Championship due to a ban for third-party interference. They were reinstated to international football last year.
Suliman and Khan both recently featured in a first-of-its-kind British South Asians in Football Team of the Season. The pair are expected to feature in Pakistan’s clash with Djibouti in their last match of the Mauritius Four Nations Cup on Saturday.
Pakistan’s women’s team returned to the international arena at last year’s Women’s SAFF Championship in Nepal.
Doncaster Rovers Belles attacker Nadia Khan, who Sky Sports News revealed had received international clearance just in time to fly to Kathmandu for the tournament, made history in Pakistan’s final group game against Mauritius, becoming the first woman to score four goals in an international match for the nation.
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