The Indian international trying to revive his career after a lean spell with Bengaluru FC.

ATK Mohun Bagan’s Indian attacking line has genuinely become one to envy for the rest of the ISL clubs. Already boasting of the likes of Liston Colaco, Manvir Singh, and Kiyan Nassiri, they have added Indian international Ashique Kuruniyan to the roster.

The Malappuram-born winger has signed for the Mariners on a five-year deal. A product of Pune City FC’s academy, the 25-year-old has plied his trade for Bengaluru FC for the past three seasons. His move to Bagan epitomizes his coming of age as he aims to blossom under Juan Ferrando, a man known for polishing young talents.

Here are the reasons why he fits into the tactician’s team.

Versatility

Ashique is a very versatile player, having played everywhere on the forward line during his time at Bengaluru. He was also used as a left-back – first by Carles Cuadrat and then by Marco Pezziaouli. However, the role of a fullback does not do justice to his ability as a winger.

Ashique is very good with both feet and has the ability to beat defenders at will with his blinding pace. Having played more on the left, he is a confident crosser of the ball. In the recently concluded AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers, Head Coach Igor Stimac deployed him on the right against Hong Kong. Although he failed to score, he constantly kept the opposition defenders on their toes with his darting runs.

Technical ability

The FC Pune City prodigy has played 60+ matches in ISL. (Courtesy: Goal)

Kuruniyan possesses innate technicality on the ball, an aspect that is often overshadowed by his electrifying speed. Due to an unstable role in Bengaluru, he failed to utilize his technical ability in the attacking third.

He showcased his qualities on the ball against Afghanistan earlier in June. The winger picked up the ball just outside the box, faked a shot, rolled it towards himself, and then slid it between two defenders into the path of Sahal, who drilled it into the back of the net. It all unfolded in the 91st minute, veritably sending India through to the finals.

Juan Ferrando values technicality above everything else. Hailing from the Catalan school of football, the tactician will relish the opportunity of having a technically sound attacker at his disposal.

Pressing

Upcoming season of ISL will be very important for Ashique Kuruniyan. (Courtesy: ISL)

Albeit playing as a fullback, Ashique was a constant feature in Pezziaouli’s high-pressing 4-3-3 when fit. Ashique on the left and Roshan Singh on the right were terrorizing defenses in the wide areas.

Juan Ferrando also employs a pressing structure in most games. The Spaniard is very particular about what he wants in his team and having someone as quick as Kuruniyan will help his forward press.

Understanding of Spanish Football

In 2017, Ashique Kuruniyan earned a one-year loan deal with Villareal’s third team (Villareal C). The lanky winger, then 19, played two games in the lower divisions. Although his stay in Spain was cut short to two and a half months owing to a hamstring injury, he learnt a lot from the period.

He was exposed to more intricate training sessions with players of higher quality around him. He also watched how the senior first-team trained and maintained themselves during the season.  “The level (of football) there is much higher than what it is here. The technical lessons that they teach there are much more advanced than what I have learned previously. They showed me a lot of new practice techniques.”, said the winger reflecting on his time in Europe.

The youngster’s understanding of the game in Spain has definitely increased from his time there and it will align with Ferrando.

For more football updates, follow Khel Now on TwitterInstagram and join our community on Telegram.