The reigning ISL champions have already started reinforcing their squad and it would benefit them to have these foreign stars on their radar.
Mumbai City sealed qualification for the AFC Champions League (ACL) 2022 group stages after finishing at the top of the table in the ISL 2020-21 league stage. The Islanders also beat three-time champions ATK Mohun Bagan in the final. They will now become just the second Indian side to play in the ACL after FC Goa this season.
Even though its a long way from now, Sergio Lobera’s side have already started with squad reinforcements ahead of the 2021-22 season. New signings Rahul Bheke and Mohammad Nawaz are set to be announced soon, while club stars Bipin Singh, Amey Ranawade, Pranjal Bhumij and Valpuia have extended their contracts with the reigning champions.
Furthermore, in the coming months, Mumbai could rope in quality stars from abroad too, especially with striker Adam le Fondre rejoining Sydney FC. On that note, let’s delve into five possible prospects that could join the Islanders.
Note: We have paid special attention to players from clubs in the City Football Group (CFG), as it would be easier for Mumbai City to bring them on intra-familial deals. The possibility of short-term loan deals for these players also increases in such a case.
5. Robin Henkens (Central Midfielder, Lommel SK)
Robin Henkens is a Belgian midfielder who plays for Lommel SK, a club that was recently acquired by the City Football Group. Having come through the ranks at Genk, he broke into their first-team in 2007 and has continued to ply his trade in the Belgian league since.
Mumbai City would be a whole new experience for him and the 32-year old could be tempted to join if they make a decent offer for him. Henken has been a consistent performer for Lommel with a keen eye for goals. He has got the aptitude to perform to his full potential on Indian soil too.
4. Ramy Najjarine (Attacking Midfielder, Newcastle Jets)
If you were to draw a list of best young talents currently in the A-League, Ramy Najjarine would feature somewhere near the top of the list.
The 20-year old is a promising young midfielder currently on loan at Newcastle Jets from Melbourne City, where he made his breakthrough. Najjarine was also a part of their squad which traveled to Kochi for the La Liga World tournament in 2018 and was on target against Kerala Blasters too.
Therefore, he isn’t completely unknown to Indian football. Also, having found very limited game-time with Melbourne, the Australian starlet could seek new pastures after the end of his current loan and Mumbai could be a good place to start.
3. Juan Pablo Torres (Defensive Midfielder, Austin Bold)
Juan Pablo Torres is fast becoming the next big thing in American football. Born to Colombian parents, he’s made a good impression with the United States U-20 side, scoring four goals in seven games and may soon get his senior call-up too.
On the club front though, Torres has found life relatively difficult. A lack of first-team chances with New York City prompted the star to seek a loan move to Austin, where he’s yet to make his maiden appearance.
A talent like his deserves to play more regularly and Mumbai City can certainly offer that. His youthful flair and an incredible burst of pace could galvanize their midfield. What’s more, Torres would also get the opportunity to play in the AFC Champions League, something that would improve his CV further.
2. Gedion Zelalem (Central Midfielder, New York City)
If the Juan Pablo Torres prospect doesn’t materialize, Mumbai City would still have another option from New York City. Gedion Zelalem hasn’t played many games for them, while his time with European sides like Arsenal and Rangers didn’t yield many appearances either.
Given his expansive skill-set, the 24-year old could use a loan move to the subcontinent to revive his career. The Islanders could also face competition for his services and must pull out all stops to land him.
1. Mamadou Sylla (Centre-Forward, Girona FC)
Of all the players on this list, Mamadou Sylla seems like the unlikeliest prospect, but you can never underestimate the might of the City Football Group. The striker has the experience of playing in top European leagues and would be a valuable addition to Mumbai City in their Champions League endeavor.
Signing for Girona in January last year, Sylla has been in a rich vein of form this season in the Segunda Division, scoring 10 goals and providing another five assists, both of which are the highest in the side.
The Senegalese international still has one more year in his contract with the Catalan outfit, so the Islanders could prize him away from Spain in a loan-deal.