The Islanders and the Red and Gold are expected to be the only two clubs from the top tier to be active in the window in the coming weeks.
The transfer window in India has more or less rounded up now. Several Indian Super League (ISL) clubs have already reached Goa for their respective pre-season. Meanwhile, the I-League Qualifiers commenced in Kolkata, marking the return of the sport in the country, amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Teams in Indian football are now merely officially announcing the transfers that were finalized some time ago.
In a notable development, East Bengal disclosed their new coaching staff on Saturday. On the other hand, Mumbai City FC have indicated on their social media handles that they will be revealing their new signings soon. The Islanders and the Red and Gold will arguably be the only outfits active in the upcoming couple of weeks. Let us take a look at the defining moves made in the Indian football transfer market in the last seven days:
ATK Mohun Bagan
Goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya has signed a two-year contract extension at ATK Mohun Bagan, the club announced on Sunday. Bhattacharya had kept the second-most number of the clean sheets (9) last season as he led the side to ISL title. With him in the goal, the Mariners have ensured they have solidity at the back with an already star-studded defence.
Esmaël Gonçalves, better known as Isma, has joined Chennaiyin FC on a free transfer for the 2020-21 ISL campaign. The 29-year-old is an immensely experienced forward, having played for clubs like OGC Nice, APOEL FC, Al-Ettifaq, Hearts FC among others.
The Portuguese player’s last spell was with Japanese club Matsumoto Yamaga. It seems like the previous season’s finalists have found the appropriate replacement for Nerijus Valskis.
Odisha FC have signed South African midfielder Cole Alexander on a two-year deal. The 31-year-old has previously played under the Juggernauts’ head coach Stuart Baxter for the Bafana Bafana. He is expected to induce intensity in the middle of the park and will probably be used as an enforcer.
As exclusively revealed by Khel Now back in August, Kerala Blasters officially announced the arrival of former Premier League striker Gary Hooper to their setup. The 32-year-old has formerly turned up for clubs like Norwich City FC and Celtic FC. His most recent stint was with Wellington Phoenix FC in the A-League and the Blasters would be relying on him to replicate Bartholomew Ogbeche’s impact upfront. Hooper has signed a season-long agreement with the club.
Kerala Blasters has strengthened their backline by securing the transfer of Zimbabwean defender Costa Nhamoinesu. Khel Now had previously confirmed that the player was set to complete a deal with the club.
The 34-year-old has been a stalwart for Czech club Sparta Prague in his seven-year spell since joining them in 2013. The seasoned centre-back will naturally don a leadership role for the Blasters and has penned a year-long contract.
Former Liverpool ace Robbie Fowler has been instated as the head coach of East Bengal for their first sojourn in the ISL. Fowler had managed Brisbane Roar in the 2019-20 A-League season. He led them in 22 matches in the competition and secured 10 wins.
The Englishman did not return to the job after the COVID-19 crisis, but was instrumental in the club finishing in fourth spot eventually. He will be banked upon to embark a new era for the Red and Gold.
Anthony Grant will be the assistant to Fowler in this stint. The Englishman was a vital part of the ex-Liverpool forward’s coaching team during his tenure in the A-League.
Former India captain Renedy Singh has been hired as the Indian assistant coach in this newly-appointed unit. Robert Mimms will be training the goalkeepers, while East Bengal have also appointed a set-piece coach in Terence McPhillips.
Veteran custodian Debjit Majumder is in talks to sign with East Bengal, Khel Now has learnt. The 32-year-old has played for Mohun Bagan, ATK and Mumbai City FC among others. He will add some invaluable experience to the backline and could be a bankable squad player to possess on the roster.
With the move, Mehta will also be reuniting with the Highlanders’ assistant coach Khalid Jamil. For the uninitiated, the former Mariners’ player was an integral part of Jamil’s I-League-winning Aizawl FC side in 2016-17.
Lalkhawpuimawia & Rochharzela
On Thursday, NorthEast United announced the signing of duo Lalkhawpuimawia and Rochharzela. The former was part of Churchill Brothers’ I-League squad last season and also scored five goals in 13 appearances for them.
On the other hand, Rochharzela was the top scorer for Aizawl in the previous campaign, having scored six goals in 15 appearances. Both the young attackers will look to make their mark in the country’s top flight.
Joseph Mayoma Olaleye
Manipur-based TRAU FC have extended the contract of attacker Joseph Mayoma Olaleye by another year. The Nigerian played 11 games in the I-League in 2019-20. He couldn’t score a single goal, but will be hoping to repay the trust that the club have placed in him in the next campaign.
New I-League entrants Sudeva FC have secured the services of former Mohun Bagan midfielder Kean Lewis. The 28-year-old has signed a year-long contract with the club.
Lewis has plied his trade for numerous clubs and even represented the likes of Delhi Dynamos and FC Pune City in the ISL. He will add tremendous value to the team in their maiden stint in the second tier of Indian football.