Keeping the deadline day in mind, clubs have sped up with their activity the market.
The transfer window for the ISL is nearing its end as the 2020-21 season is set to commence in later this year. However, clubs such as Mumbai City FC and SC East Bengal have only just begun announcing their signings and hence one can expect some activity to keep taking place till the end of the transfer window. Most of the ISL squads have reached Goa for their pre-season camps whereas the international players are still arriving in the coastal state gradually.
FC Goa have signed Reliance Foundation Young Champs (RFYC) graduate Muhammed Nemil on a three-year contract. The player has spent a year in Spain’s Fundación Marcet academy and will do so for another one before joining the Gaurs’ setup.
Raphael Augusto parted ways with Bengaluru FC after terminating the contract on mutual consent. The Blues wished the Brazilian the best through this phase, as they cited personal reasons as the basis of this decision. The 29-year-old had joined the former ISL champions in 2019 and made nine league appearances. The club will have to swiftly seek a replacement for him in the coming few days. The JSW Group-owned outfit has also handed out a three-year deal to RFYC product Huidrom Thoi Singh, as confirmed by Khel Now in September.
The Blues have parted ways with defender Albert Serran who made 34 appearances for them in the last two seasons in ISL. “All of us at the BFC family would like to thank Albert Serran for his time at the club, and wish him good luck for everything that lies ahead. It was a pleasure having you wear the BFC blue, champion,” the club statement read.
Kristian Opseth and Fran Gonzalez
The 2018-19 ISL champions have strengthened their attack by inducting Norwegian striker Kristian Opseth into the squad. The 30-year-old recently had a stint with Adelaide United in the A-League. “I got a good feeling after speaking to the coach (Carles Cuadrat) and the fact that Bengaluru is always a strong competitor for the title triggered the wanting to come,” Opseth was quoted in the official statement.
Furthermore, former Mohun Bagan defender Fran Gonzalez has also joined Bengaluru FC on a one-year deal. The 31-year-old had scored 10 goals for Mohun Bagan in their title-triumph in the I-League in 2019-20.
ISL outfit Chennaiyin FC bolstered their attacking department by securing the signing of Tajikistan’s most-capped international player Fatkhulo Fatkhulloev. The winger has made 63 appearances for the senior national team and represented top clubs such as FC Istiklol and FC Khujand. He joins the Marina Machans on a free transfer and is set to become one of the most remarkable international players to ply his trade in the league in 2020-21. Recent RFYC graduates G Balaji and Aqib Nawab have also signed a two-year contract each with Chennaiyin FC.
Mumbai City FC
As first revealed by Khel Now in March this year, Mumbai City FC announced the appointment of Sergio Lobera as the Islanders’ new head coach for the forthcoming campaign. The Spaniard had earned several acclaims for his tremendous work with FC Goa since 2017, before being relieved of his duties earlier in 2020. Jesus Tato and Manuel Sayabera join Lobera’s staff as the assistant and fitness and conditioning coach respectively.
Mandar Rao Dessai
Mandar Rao Dessai has joined Mumbai City on a two-year contract, with an option to extend the stay by another year. The 28-year-old is the Gaurs’ most capped player and even led them under the tutelage of Lobera previously. Dessai will be expected to replace Subhasish Bose in the left-back slot for the Islanders.
Vikram Partap Singh
Mumbai City FC have roped in India U-20 forward Vikram Partap Singh in an agreement that will see him stay at the club until 2023, with an option to extend the deal by an additional year. The Chandigarh Football Academy (CFA) product had scored four goals in 14 matches for the Indian Arrows in the I-League last season.
RFYC graduate Ayush Chhikara, who hails from Delhi and plays as a forward has been lured in the Islanders on a three-year agreement.
Farukh Choudhary has penned a three-year contract with the City Football Group-owned club. The 23-year-old arrives to Mumbai after spending three seasons with Jamshedpur FC in the ISL. Choudhary can play on the flanks and up front too, and it will be interesting to witness his development under the stewardship of tactician Lobera.
The signing of French-Moroccan ace Hugo Boumous was disclosed as the attacking midfielder has inked a two-year deal with the Islanders. Mumbai City FC have paid ₹1.6 crores to trigger Boumous’ buyout clause and facilitate his move from FC Goa.
The fee paid by Mumbai to Goa in this case is the highest-ever amount that an Indian club has received in a transfer move. It surpasses the ₹1 crore that the likes of Bengaluru FC and Chennai City FC received from Zheijan Lucheng and Albirex Niigata for Edu Garcia and Pedro Manzi respectively.
Senegalese centre-back Mourtada Fall has joined Mumbai City FC on a two-year contract. Khel Now had previously reported about this move back in May. Fall joins the host of players shifting ships from FC Goa to the Islanders in this transfer window.
Adam le Fondre
Striker Adam le Fondre has penned a season-long loan deal with Mumbai City FC, as the 33-year-old arrives in India from his parent club Sydney FC. The former Cardiff City attacker was one of the most sought-after players amongst the Indian clubs in the transfer market. The Islanders have continued their commendable business in this season’s window by signing the Englishman. Adam le Fondre will be tipped to form a fruitful partnership with Boumous in the attack.
Right-back Mohamad Rakip joins the Islanders from Kerala Blasters on a two-year contract. The 20-year-old was trained at the AIFF Elite Academy and will be a vital cog in Lobera’s defensive unit. Rakip played 15 matches in ISL 2019-20 season and racked up some stellar defensive numbers to emerge as one of the best full-backs in the league.
Aritra Das, Muhammed Basith and Birendra Singh
The trio of Aritra Das, Muhammed Basith and Birendra Singh has penned a three-year contract each with Kerala Blasters. They are a part of the first batch of RFYC players who have graduated from the academy this year.
NorthEast United FC have completed the signing of Ghanaian forward Kwesi Appiah. The 30-year-old has turned up for clubs like Crystal Palace FC, Reading FC and AFC Wimbledon in the past. He has also scored two goals in six matches for the senior national team and will induce significant experience to the Highlanders’ roster.
NorthEast United FC have further added striker Idrissa Sylla from Zulte Waregem, who play in the Belgian league. The 29-year-old has prior experience of playing for Queens Park Rangers in England but this will be his first stint in Asian football. The Highlanders scored the least number of goals (16) in the league last term and will be hoping that Sylla manages to resolve their issues up front.
Hyderabad FC have inducted multiple players from the Indian Arrows to their squad. The trio includes goalkeeper Lalbiakhlua ‘Biaka’ Jongte, attacker Rohit Danu and fullback Akash Mishra. In fact, Khel Now exclusively revealed about Mishra’s transfer to the Nizams for a sum of INR 40 lakhs a few months ago itself.
Moreover, Koustav Dutta will be playing for Hyderabad FC after penning a three-year deal with the club. He is one of the nine starlets to have emerged from the RFYC setup this year.
SC East Bengal
SC East Bengal announced the arrival of Irish winger Anthony Pilkington to the squad. The 32-year-old was a part of Manchester United’s U-18 team in the past. He has played for clubs such as Huddersfield Town, Norwich City, Cardiff City and boasts of an impressive goalscoring record for someone who operates from the flank.
The Red and Gold have signed Welsh striker Aaron Amadi-Holloway too. The 27-year-old follows Robbie Keane from Brisbane Roars FC to the Kolkata-based club. Pilkington and Amadi-Holloway are quarantining in the team hotel in Goa currently and will join the pre-season preparations subsequently.
Former Southampton defender Danny Fox has joined the SC East Bengal setup too. The 34-year-old last played for Wigan Athletic in the English Championship. He will be a key starter in Fowler’s defensive line and is definitely one of the remarkable foreigners set to play in the ISL this season.
SC East Bengal have lured in German midfielder Matti Steinmann ahead of the new season. A defensive midfielder, he has turned up for Hamburger SV previously. Speaking on his move to the Red & Gold Brigade, Steinmann said, “I am really looking forward to adding to the strength of SC East Bengal, which is already a top side in India. I have been doing a lot of reading on the club and football in India, and the project under Robbie excites me. I cannot wait to get going, for us and the millions of fans we have across the world.”
The new entrants of ISL have roped in former Birmingham City midfielder Jacques Maghoma on a one-year contract. The 32-year-old has spent the entirety of his senior career in England. He has represented clubs like Burton Albion, Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City. He is adept at finding the back of the net and possesses commendable creative acumen. Maghoma could be a vital cog in the midfield department for gaffer Robbie Fowler.
Following is the entire list of the Indian players at SC East Bengal:
Goalkeepers: Sankar Roy, Debjit Majumder, Md. Rafique Ali Sardar, Mirshad Kootapunna
Defenders: Gurtej Singh, Narayan Das, Samad Ali Mallick, Lalramchullova, Mohammed Irshad, N Rohen Singh, Abhishek Ambekar, Rana Gharami
Midfielders: Sehnaj Singh, Bikash Jairu, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Yumnam Gopi Singh, Wahengbam Angousana, Md. Rafique, Moirangthem Loken Meitei, Surchandra Singh Chandam
Forwards: Jeje Lalpekhlua, Balwant Singh.