The 26-year-old was adjudged the Emerging Player of the Season in the 2017-18 ISL season.

Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Odisha FC have completed the signing of Lalruatthara from Kerala Blasters, Khel Now can confirm. The defender only had a sparing role at the Kochi outfit in the previous season, making just five appearances.

“Lalruatthara has signed with Odisha FC,” a source close to the developments informed Khel Now. We also understand that the defender will join the Juggernauts on a two-year deal with an option to extend for one more season.

Lalruatthara’s career so far

Lalruatthara began his football career at the Chandigarh Football Academy. He rose to fame was when he won the U-17 Subroto Cup with Mizoram. In 2015, he joined I-League side Aizawl FC after stints with multiple local clubs. A year later, Delhi Dynamos signed him on a loan deal, but the defender returned to Aizawl soon and became a part of their I-League 2016-17 title-winning side. Lalruatthara played 34 matches across two seasons for Aizawl FC, before Kerala Blasters came calling the following summer.

The 26-year-old became a revelation for the Yellow Army in the 2017-18 season. He made 620 passes, 14 interceptions, 59 clearances and 22 blocks in 17 appearances. The versatile defender who can play as both full-back and centre-back also made 85 tackles – the most by any Indian player as he became the ISL Emerging Player of the Season.

However, his performance have taken a downward turn since then, making just 12, three and five appearances in the next three years. In the recently concluded 2020-21 season, he was barely considered by then-head coach Kibu Vicuna despite the Blasters’ regular defensive woes. He was handed just three starts, although the Yellow Army were struggling with form and injuries.

His contract with Kerala Blasters ended on May 31 and he will join Odisha FC ahead of the next season.

Odisha FC’s pre-season preparations

Despite beginning their campaign with a lot of promise, Odisha FC finished at the bottom of the table. Also, the club sacked their then-head coach Stuart Baxter for distasteful comments on live television. The Juggernauts are currently working to find his replacement, apart from holding talks with more players ahead of the upcoming season.

Odisha FC have already roped in Sahil Panwar and Sebastian Thangmuansang, while Jerry Mawihmingthanga signed a four-year extension, as we reported earlier. However, the biggest move of the club so far would be the appointment of David Villa as their Global Football Advisor.

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