The club has formally announced the signatures of 13 players.
After finishing at the bottom last season, East Bengal sponsored by Emami this time looks for resurrection under former national team coach Stephen Constantine. East Bengal have had a tough time since joining the Indian Super League and need some major reinforcements to turn it around this season.
Stephen Constantine has done miracles with the Indian football team during his last term. The English manager took the team to AFC Asian Cup in 2019 where the Blues clinched its first win in the tournament since 1964. The new tactician brings a lot of promise for the Red and Gold Brigade.
ISL has got some big names when it comes to paying hefty fees for transfers. Also considering their sponsor woes every year, the Kolkata club may not be able to spend big and attract headline-makers. They will have to target unsung youngsters and useful veterans either on loan or at a cut-price to balance their books while also making the roster more competitive. So, let’s take a look at five players the club should target under new boss Stephen Constantine.
5. Subhasish Roy Chowdhury
The veteran goalkeeper has received more criticism than praise despite being consistent for most of his career. Chowdhury helped NorthEast United finish third – their best ever – under Khalid Jamil in ISL 2020-21 but was benched due to some inconsistent outings in the next season.
The custodian is 35 but can still be a short-term solution for East Bengal under the bar. The player started his professional career with the Red and Gold brigade and having a last dance with them would be a fairy-tale end to his long career.
The fact that Stephen Constantine rated him in the league of Subrata Paul and others also makes the move more feasible. Also, the keeper has joined the training sessions at East Bengal. Since he is yet to pass the medicals, the club hasn’t formally announced his name.
4. Imran Khan
East Bengal had shown interest in NorthEast United midfielder Imran Khan. The former Mohun Bagan player will not mind a move to the arch-rivals and is heard to have agreed on personal terms.
The 27-year-old is hitting his prime for the Highlanders. Despite being a newbie to the league, Khan played with maturity and took the responsibility in clutch moments. The youngster was a positive for the club during their poor run last season and is underrated.
Although Khan is training with the NorthEast United squad, this transfer can’t be ruled out. East Bengal fans must keep an eye on this transfer until the deadline.
3. Udanta Singh
Once considered an heir apparent to captain Sunil Chhetri, Udanta has never lived up to the expectations. The winger is in immediate need of a breakthrough season as he is still young and can reach the level everyone hoped.
Since the 2018-19 ISL season, game time for the 26-year-old winger at Bengaluru FC has continuously decreased. Also, he has one-year left on his ongoing contract and considering the options Bengaluru FC have in attack, they might not hesitate to allow the departure if a satisfactory offer is made.
We have seen Udanta Singh wreaking havoc on the wings under Constantine for the national team. On the other hand, East Bengal need pace and experience in attack, and Singh would provide both. This deal would turn out to be a perfect one for both parties.
2. Gurkirat Singh
East Bengal made the same mistake twice over the last two years. And that is letting go of their top scorer and not investing in a young number 9. Since the reduction of the number of foreigners in the league, having a domestic player who has goal-scoring prowess has benefitted all teams.
East Bengal lack someone with the needed ability and scoring instinct. Hence, going for Gurkirat Singh, who is coming off a brilliant campaign at SAFF U-20 Championship, sounds ideal. The young striker possesses that killer instinct in front of goal and has brilliant work rate.
With Rahim Ali signing a new contract at Chennaiyin FC, Gurkirat Singh now seems a more persuadable option.
1. Ritwik Das
The Kolkata giants had Ritwik Das on their radar ever since the previous season ended. After a disappointing stint at Kerala Blasters, Das had his breakthrough season at Jamshedpur FC where his goal against ATK Mohun Bagan crowned them with the ISL Shield title.
The winger hails from Asansol (West Bengal) and is a hard working emerging lad in Indian football. Ritwik Das has been a East Bengal fan since childhood and has always accepted in the media, his desire to represent the giants. The head coach Stephen Constantine loves to play pure wingers in his system and it’s a no brainer that he will push for the signing until the last day.
In the previous season, Komal Thatal’s injury proved to be a blessing in disguise for Das. He received ample game time on the left flank since then. This season, fan favourite Farukh Choudhary will return for Jamshedpur FC and so will Komal Thatal. Seeing the quality of options and the incoming transfer fees, Jamshedpur FC can give the go for the move.