The 2020-21 season is knocking on the door and clubs are in the midst of completing new signings.
Activities in the Indian football market are picking up pace and the previous week witnessed some significant transfers. This time around, the headlines were grabbed not only by players but also coaches.
Hyderabad FC fans were left disappointed after their newly-appointed head coach Albert Roca left for FC Barcelona, who came with an offer he couldn’t refuse. Another side made an official announcement regarding their new tactician for the upcoming campaign, whilst a very significant striker parted ways with his former club after much speculation. Without further ado, let us ponder upon the details of these developments:
ATK Mohun Bagan
ATK Mohun Bagan officially announced the signing of national team striker Manvir Singh on a three-year contract. The 24-year-old has joined the Kolkata-based club from FC Goa, a club that he represented in the last three seasons. It is believed that that the new merged entity activated Singh’s buyout clause worth ₹80 lacs to acquire his services.
Chennaiyin FC have appointed former Hungary and Romania international Csaba Laszlo as their new head coach. The 56-year-old tactician managed Dundee United in the Scottish Championship in 2017-18 and finished third in the league. He has previously been the head coach of the Uganda national team and also managed Hearts in Scotland.
Laszlo brings profound experience to the table, having coached in eight different countries. The club will look to sustain the momentum that enabled them to finish as the runners-up of the previous ISL campaign, under Laszlo’s tutelage.
Reamsochung ‘Remi’ Aimol, Samik Mitra, Aman Chetri
Chennaiyin are also working swiftly to strengthen their squad and secure their players on longer deals. The young trio of defender Reamsochung ‘Remi’ Aimol, goalkeeper Samik Mitra and forward Aman Chetri have penned multi-year contracts, thus extending their stays at the club.
Jamshedpur FC have roped in Ricky Lallawmawma from ATK Mohun Bagan on a two-year contract. The 28-year-old made 17 appearances for ATK in 2018-19, but the formation that Antonio Lopez Habas implemented in the previous campaign did not see him fit into the setup appropriately. The player can possibly become a mainstay in Owen Coyle’s defensive lineup for the Men of Steel.
The Jharkhand-based club have also lured in goalkeeper Pawan Kumar on a contract that will last for a couple of years. The 30-year-old could turn out for NorthEast United in only two matches in 2019-20. He will possibly don a more important role at his new club, as Subrata Paul left to join Hyderabad FC and thus a sizeable void is prevalent in the goalkeeping department now.
Kerala Blasters officially announced the departure of their skipper and prolific forward Bartholomew Ogbeche from the club. The Nigeria international is believed to have sent a heartfelt message to his teammates from the Kochi-based club too. Ogbeche is widely reported to join Mumbai City FC, though the Islanders have made no official announcement regarding any of their signings so far.
Midfielder Rohit Kumar has joined the Kochi-based club from Hyderabad on a two-year deal. The 23-year-old played nine matches for his former club in 2019-20. He scored and assisted a solitary goal each, whilst also being tenacious on the defensive front. The Delhi-born player adds steel, solidity and some depth to Blasters’ midfield.
Khel Now has revealed that Kerala Blasters have initiated talks to sign former Sheffield Wednesday, Norwich City and Celtic forward Gary Hooper. The club have apparently shortlisted certain players to bolster their forward line and Hooper is one of the preferred options currently. Negotiations are ongoing to strike a deal with the Wellington Phoenix striker. Hooper scored eight goals and notched five assists in the 2019-20 A-League campaign.
Naorem Mahesh Singh
The Southerners have also completed the signing of Naorem Mahesh Singh from Shillong Lajong, Khel Now can confirm. The 21-year-old played for Blasters’ reserve team in the 2nd Division League earlier this year. Ogbeche’s departure has created a vacuum in the team’s repertoire of strikers and the think-tank seems to be consciously reinforcing the same.
NorthEast United have instated Gerard Nus as their new head coach ahead of the 2020-21 ISL season. Nus is a UEFA Pro License holder and has been a part of the backroom staff at clubs like Liverpool, Brighton and Hove Albion, Melbourne Heart, Rayo Vallecano among others. The Spaniard is aged only 35 years and will look to turn around the Highlanders’ fortunes after the club’s lowly ninth-placed finish in the previous campaign.
Brazilian midfielder Joao Victor has penned a year-long contract with Hyderabad FC, as reported exclusively by Khel Now a day before the official announcement. The 31-year-old has previously played for RCD Mallorca in LaLiga and will potentially add tremendous quality and value to the ISL outfit. Apparently, Kerala Blasters had shortlisted him as one of their potential targets too, but Hyderabad managed to swiftly secure his services.
Albert Roca’s stint as the head coach of Hyderabad FC has concluded even before it commenced properly. The Spaniard was contacted by Ronald Koeman to join the Dutchman’s coaching staff at FC Barcelona from the upcoming campaign onward.
Roca will thus be the new fitness coach at the Blaugrana. He was formerly associated with Barcelona from 2003-08, as one of the deputies to Frank Rijkaard. Hyderabad will have to go on the hunt for a suitable replacement now, which will be a difficult task considering that they had shaped their plans around Roca since the beginning of 2020.
Chingakham Roshan Singh
Gokulam Kerala have signed defender Chingakham Roshan Singh from NEROCA FC. The Malabarians had appointed Vincenzo Alberto Annese as their head coach last week. They have acquired several local talents like Muhammad Asif, Ngangom Ronald Singh, Faslu Rahman and Rishad PP in the past few months. Goalkeeper Shayan Roy has also joined the club from TRAU FC.
Aizawl FC have roped in forward Princewill Emeka from TRAU. The 28-year-old Nigerian led the Manipur-based club in the I-League in the previous term. He has represented NEROCA and Mohammedan Sporting Club in the past and has been plying trade in India since 2016.
Emeka was instrumental in lifting TRAU to the I-League from the 2nd Division of the competition and promises to be a valuable asset for Aizawl. Earlier, the club also announced the retention of key foreign duo Richard Kassaga and Alfred Jaryan.
Goal has reported that right-back Arijit Bagui is in advanced talks to join 2nd Division League club Bhawanipore FC. Bagui is a former Mohun Bagan player and was even named as “Player of the Year” for the Mariners in the 2018-19 campaign. However, his career encountered a roadblock, as he didn’t attain many opportunities under the tutelage of Kibu Vicuna in the club’s I-League triumph last time around. He will look to reinvigorate his career at Bhawanipore.
Mohammedan SC lured in Gani Ahmed Nigam from Hyderabad FC ahead of their upcoming venture in the 2nd Division League. The 22-year-old midfielder clocked 164 minutes on the field in five matches in the ISL in 2019-20. The Black Panthers have also lured in former NEROCA and DSK Shivajians defensive midfielder Biaklian Paite, thus proving they are determined to play in the I-League next season.