The striker has showed impressive growth under the tutelage of the Spanish tactician and looks primed to lead the line in the new campaign.

As East Bengal move into their  second season with Alejandro Menendez at the helm, there’s growing optimism for a stronger push for the I-League title and young striker Bidyasagar Singh will play a key role. Indeed, after coming mighty close to ending their league curse last season, the Red and Gold look a stronger side, at least on paper, this time around.

While some hiccups in the Durand Cup and Calcutta Football League have showcased worrying signs, it’s rather clear that the Spaniard is preparing for the I-League. Among the various improvements he’s made to East Bengal’s structure or their playing style, one thing for which Menendez should particularly be lauded is how he’s evolved young talents from his youth system.

The Spaniard earned his reputation during his days as the manager of Real Madrid Castilla nearly a decade ago, when he gave rise to the likes of Alvaro Morata, Nacho and Pablo Sarabia amongst others. While not exactly of the same quality, yet the way he’s getting the best out of teenage sensation Bidyasagar Singh is enough reason to delight the fans.

Indeed, the 21-year-old has come a long way, maturing into an effective centre-forward option for his coach. After last season’s domestic top scorer Jobby Justin packed his bags to reach for the spotlight at ATK, Menendez seems to have found a ready-made replacement for him in the form of Singh.

Early into the season, he’s already staking a claim to start games for the Red and Gold, as the I-League approaches. Bidyasagar Singh has been able to amplify his deadly instincts thanks to Menendez’s stern training methods, allowing him to free his wings into relaying trouble for opposition defenders.

The 21-year-old shone through in the Durand Cup, where East Bengal progressed to the semi-finals thanks to his brilliance. Indeed, Singh netted five goals for the Red and Gold, including a stunning brace to complete a comeback against the spirited Bengaluru FC B to attain comfortable qualification into the last four.

Moreover, he’s also netted three goals in the Calcutta Football League campaign so far and is only behind Jaime Santos Colado (9 goals) in the top goalscorer ranking right now. Despite not even starting every game and mostly making his impact coming off the bench, the 21-year-old has risen as a prominent goalscoring option for Menendez’s side.

There is more than what catches the eye when it comes to Bidyasagar Singh, than just his goalscoring instincts. He’s also an immense team player who can adapt himself according to the conditions and be a game-changer with his creative style. He already looks to have perfectly adapted himself to the Spanish style of football which has been implemented at the club, with the quick link-up play helping his proactive nature.

Bidyasagar’s chemistry with his Spanish peers, especially Colado, is what has helped him rise through the ranks. It almost feels at times that the two have an intuitive connection with each other. Indeed, Singh’s impeccable quick one-touch passing with his Spaniard teammate or ability to anticipate his forward runs have tormented even the staunchest of backlines. Moreover, he can easily switch positions with Colado to drop deeper, create more chances and confuse defenders.

The 21-year-old’s ability to be a convenient option whenever moving forward is another bright trait. He always seems to move into  pockets of space to destabilize backlines. Mixed with his electric pace as well as compelling first touch, Bidyasagar allows himself to get many shots at goal from promising positions.

He rarely misses the target whenever trying something in the final third, while his clinical finishing has been on show with some sweet natural finishes so far into the campaign. Of course, physically he’s still quite frail against strong defenders, but East Bengal’s quick passing style doesn’t demand him to be strong aerially or hold up possession.

Instead, he’s allowed to express himself by running forward with the ball, creating chances thanks to his strong connection with his fellow attackers and has the license to get in the box and take shots on target. With East Bengal’s new boy Juan Mera Gonzalez also looking a fine addition to amplify the creative edge to their game, Bidyasagar now has another partner whom he can link-up with to open up defences.

The 21-year-old’s done enough to warrant more starts going forward. Ronaldo Oliviera still seems a bit raw adapting to the Kolkata football culture, while Marcos de la Espada cannot be trusted week in, week out. With his strong partnership with Colado and accelerating growth proving him a deadly, consistent goalscorer, it’d be unfair if Menendez doesn’t allow Bidyasagar to lead the line more regularly in the I-League season.