Most of them were statement signatures by the club.
ATK Mohun Bagan have been among the highest-spending clubs in Indian football in the post-Covid era. The Mariners have been proactive in transfer windows in recent years in an attempt to continuously improve their squad.
While they do strongly contest for the Indian Super League (ISL), the ultimate goal of the ATKMB owners is to help them become a major force across Asia. They want the club to prominently feature in AFC tournaments and be among the title-challengers in the near future.
In an attempt to create a ‘super-team’ that can strongly contest in the AFC Cup, the Mariners had signed some quality players. That includes some of Indian football’s best and prominent foreign players too. Before their decent run in the AFC Cup in 2021, they signed a lot of players specifically to help in those events. We will now assess how these key signings have performed for the club.
The Mariners paid a major amount to bring in India international Amrinder Singh last year. He was brought on board to replace Arindam Bhattacharya and slotted into the team for the AFC Cup games. The ex-Mumbai City goalkeeper conceded eight goals in the four AFC Cup outings, including six against FC Nasaf. His form went down after that, as he conceded almost 30 goals in the ISL last season.
Juan Ferrando didn’t deem Amrinder’s skills or his lack of ball-playing skills to be up to the mark for his team. The India international was frozen out after the ISL campaign and didn’t feature much in his side’s AFC Cup games this year. He recently signed for Odisha FC and will spend the upcoming ISL campaign with them.
The acquisition of Liston Colaco was a statement signing for ATK Mohun Bagan last season. After watching him impress for Hyderabad FC in the 2020/21 ISL campaign, the Kolkata giants made the decision to splurge on him. They signed Colaco by spending the highest-ever transfer fee ever paid for an Indian player’s transfer.
Colaco was roped in before the AFC Cup campaign and made a positive impact from the get-go. He scored a goal in the group stage fixtures and also helped set things up with his feisty style. Fast-forward a year and Colaco is now one of ATKMB’s biggest players and a crucial part of the team. He’s one of the most renowned names in Indian football and is being labelled as the heir to Sunil Chhetri’s throne.
Speaking of statement signings, ATK Mohun Bagan also shocked the Indian football scene by roping in Joni Kauko last year. This came after he featured for Finland in the Euro 2020 and joined them straight after. The Mariners agreed to pay lavish wages for him to join them as a major upgrade in the midfield. Unfortunately for Kauko, his debut for the Mariners was in the cruel defeat to FC Nasaf.
A year into his career with ATKMB, Kauko is a leader in the side and a major force in midfield. He’s responsible for controlling games, scoring and creating goals and seems to have settled into the new environment really well.
Deepak Tangri joined the Mariners last year. He made his debut for them in the AFC Cup group stages, putting in a solid shift in midfield. The young midfielder was brought in as a first-team regular than a future star, as he went onto take up Lenny Rodrigues’ position in the team. However, Tangri still lacks composure and is not a maestro at nullifying opposition attackers. Yes, he likes to be physical but staying calm and delivering is an area he must work on. These drawbacks were very much noticeable both in the ISL and the AFC Cup.
Despite the shortcomings, Tangri has maintained his regular role in the ATKMB team over the year and is considered an important part of the contingent. He’ll now have to work hard and improve the aforementioned points to emerge as Juan Ferrando’s “Mr. Reliable” in midfield.
Hugo Boumous’ signing for the Mariners was a bit of a historical landmark. He signed a five-year contract with them after joining from Mumbai City FC, marking a deal that’s never been done. Boumous was signed just before their AFC Cup campaign and was able to make his debut for them in the matches. He had a decent impact, creating some goals and helping them sail through the group stages.
But a lot has changed over the year. Boumous remains part of the Mariners, but isn’t the major star for them anymore. He is no more a regular starter and seems to have lost some of his importance to the team. The Frenchman is set to start the upcoming ISL season with the Mariners, but it remains to be seen how many games he prominently features in.
Subhasish Bose was roped in by ATK Mohun Bagan’s think tank back in 2020. Though, he wasn’t certainly signed just prior to any AFC event, but keeping the broader project in mind, the management decided to bag his services. It was a long-term deal for Bose. But as of now, his performances neither in the AFC Cup nor in the Indian Super League can be highly praised.
This season however, Juan Ferrando has brought in a change in plans. It will be interesting to see if he deploys a similar three-man backline, like he experimented in the Durand Cup. Bose was mainly used as a left centre-back along with Florentin Pogba and Pritam Kotal. If the head coach plans to continue with the same, the left-back will play an integral part in the club’s outings.