Five players Chennaiyin FC should sign this summer
The Marina Machans look set to press the refresh button after a disappointing campaign.
Although there were several signs of promise, Chennaiyin FC‘s first season under German manager Thomas Brdaric will go down as a disappointing campaign. In the 2022-23 Indian Super League season, the Marina Machans racked up the highest goal tally in their history and saw the emergence of promising young players, but injuries and a leaky defence meant that they finished the season in eighth spot.
The persistent issues and lack of transfer activity have even prompted some fans of the club to voice their frustrations with Pratham Basu, the Head of Football Operations at Chennaiyin FC. Considering the issues CFC need to address in the summer window, here are five signings they should make.
5. Aibanbha Dohling
Despite trying out multiple players like Edwin Vanspaul, Mohammad Rafique, and Ajith Kumar at right-back, the Marina Machans are yet to find someone who suits the role. In addition to this, Vanspaul’s likely departure to East Bengal FC must prompt Brdaric to target a good right-back in the summer.
The answer might lie in the form of Aibhanba Dohling, whose contract ends in the summer. Dohling recorded the most tackles among the Gaurs’ defenders in the previous season. Brdaric will also benefit from the versatility Dohling offers as a defensive option.
4. Nim Dorjee Tamang
An Indian centre-back will be high up CFC’s priority. New signings Vafa Hakhamaneshi and Fallou Diagne failed to impress in the previous season. CFC conceded 37 goals in the 2022-23 ISL season, the third-highest in the league.
The pairing of Hakhamaneshi and Diagne takes up two precious foreign slots in the side. Although Chinglensana Singh’s injury allowed Nim Dorjee Tamang to prove his mettle for Hyderabad FC, how much the Nizams prioritise Tamang is yet to be known. Manolo Marquez’s departure does not help with the uncertainty. What is certain though is his skill.
The 27-year-old combines aggression with the awareness to detect threats. His ability to build from the back makes him an invaluable asset. With one year left on his contract, the 27-year-old might look to join a team where he can enjoy more game time and cement his status as a defender to watch out for.
3. Hernan Santana
Hernan Santana’s return to the ISL did not go as expected with the Spanish veteran often being relegated to the bench by Carlos Pena. Santana’s ability is not unknown to Indian football fans, who have seen his performances; especially during Mumbai City FC’s historic 2020/21 campaign.
Brdaric’s 4-2-3-1 is ideal for Santana whose composure and ball-playing ability often see him slot in the defensive midfield roles. Perhaps, he can form a good duo with Duker and liberate Thapa from defensive responsibilities. If not, he can still address the Machans’ centre-back troubles.
The former LaLiga star will have multiple clubs vying for his signing thanks to the experience and ability he brings to the table.
2. Ishan Pandita
Although goals have not been a concern for Chennaiyin FC, signing Ishan Pandita would make sense for both parties in many ways. For CFC, Ishan offers back-up to Karikari and Sliskovic, who have been injury prone.
Considering the fact that he was the first Indian to sign a professional contract with a Spanish first division club and his emergence in the national set-up, it will not be surprising to see him break the Chennai-based club’s over-reliance on the foreign trio of Khayati, Karikari and Sliskovic who take up foreign slots and have also been injury prone.
For Ishan, CFC is potentially an opportunity to get more minutes and recognition, following an underwhelming campaign with Jamshedpur FC where he did not receive the game time he desires. The 24 year old can also hope to develop under Thomas Brdaric.
1. Prabhsukhan Singh Gill
Debjit Majumder’s disappointing showings last season posed a goalkeeper crisis for the Marina Machans. Although Samik Mitra replaced him in the latter part of the season, Chennaiyin FC could be in the market for a solid goalkeeper who can prevent the leakage of goals.
Rumours suggest that with one year left on his contract, Kerala Blasters might try to cash in on Prabhsukhan Singh Gill. Sachin Suresh’s contract extension and the starts he got in the Hero Super Cup suggest that he is already being groomed as the replacement.
If Gill is for sale, he will be one of the hottest prospects of the summer window and the Marina Machans will have to fight off serious competition from other clubs to secure the services of the 22-year-old Golden Glove winner.
The summer window is the best chance for the CFC management to get the resources to build and reinforce the squad. While a complete rebuild is set to be on the horizon, Brdaric’s contract is yet to be extended and a new name at the helm could stall the process.
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