This will be first season for the Islanders in the Indian Super League under the management of City Football Group.
Mumbai City FC released their entire foreign contingent of players from the 2019-20 ISL season to make way for others in the first season under City Football Group. With Sergio Lobera’s arrival as the head coach of the team, the Islanders have recruited a whole new set of international stars. The Spanish tactician brought along with him the crux of offshore players who succeeded immensely at FC Goa.
Furthermore, the City Football Group-owned outfit managed to secure loan deals of footballers like Adam le Fondre, Hernan Santana and Cy Goddard. Though unknown commodities in Indian football, these individuals promise to infuse incredible quality to the Islanders’ setup. Finally, they signed star striker Bartholomew Ogbeche to strengthen their striking department too. In this article, we profile the seven foreigners who will be a part of Mumbai City FC as they embark on a new journey after the CFG takeover.
Having joined the Islanders for a record transfer fee in Indian football, Hugo Boumous will have a point to prove in the coming ISL season. The attacking-midfielder had won the Golden Ball in 2019-20 as he flourished under Lobera’s tutelage. The French-Moroccan will look to thrive playing behind Bartholomew Ogbeche and Adam le Fondre.
He will be touted to be the creative lynchpin of the setup, linking the midfield to the forward line and creating abundant goal-scoring opportunities. Boumous has bagged 16 goals and notched 17 assists in 42 ISL matches since the 2017-18 campaign. The 25-year-old was lethal in the previous campaign, as he displayed laudable efficiency in both netting goals and setting them up. Boumous will be eager to justify the massive price tag associated with him in the forthcoming ISL campaign.
The Islanders missed the daunting presence of Lucian Goian in the backline in the 2019-20 season and Mourtada Fall will look to take over that role in 2020-21. The Senegalese has recorded 2.77 tackles, 9.62 clearances and a passing accuracy of 88.35% on an average in 40 encounters in the league so far. The 32-year-old has worked with Lobera in two different clubs previously and is adept with the tactician’s tactical demands.
In addition to his commendable defensive numbers, he is a goal-scoring threat from set-pieces too. Fall had bagged five goals and three assists in 19 ISL games in the 2019-20 season and this dimension of his playing style will be extremely valuable to the Islanders in the coming campaign. He will possibly partner Sarthak Golui at the heart of the defensive line and the duo promise to complement each other and add significant quality to the playing XI.
Bartholomew Ogbeche netted 15 goals for Kerala Blasters last year and was pivotal to NorthEast United’s fourth-placed finish in the2018-19 season. The forward is renowned for his finesse and fine finishing skills. He is perhaps the perfect forward to capitalize on Boumous’ creative acumen. Ogbeche can possibly be termed as the ideal striker, as he has the ability to run at the opposition defenders, interlinks well with other forwards and is aerially dominant too.
His partnership with Raphael Messi Bouli upfront last time around indicates that Ogbeche will manage to blend well with Adam le Fondre too. The ex-Paris Saint-Germain player has only played under the stewardship of Eelco Schattorie in India so far. Hence, adapting to Lobera’s demands might turn out to be a challenge early on in the season. Despite his impeccable track record so far, it remains to be seen if the striker manages to sustain his incredible goal-scoring touch at 36-years of age.
Adam le Fondre
Adam le Fondre arrives to the ISL with a massive reputation behind him, considering his exploits in the A-League. The Englishman has notched 39 goals in 57 matches in the A-League since 2018. The 33-year-old has represented the likes of Reading, Cardiff City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers formerly.
He will add tremendous value to the Islanders’ setup, and offer Lobera some diversity and variety to pick his forward line. Adam le Fondre was named in the A-League team of the season in consecutive seasons in 2018-19 and 2019-20. He was also honoured as the Premier League ‘Player of the Month’ in January 2013. The way in which Lobera manages to accommodate both forwards in the playing XI or utilize them on a rotational basis will be one of the facets to look out for in this team in the 2020-21 season.
Ahmed Jahouh has joined Mumbai City FC on a two-year contract. The midfielder has played 56 matches across three years in the ISL and held the key to FC Goa’s success at the centre of the park. The Moroccan midfielder can expertly control the pace of the game and shields the defensive line astutely.
He maintains the tempo of the game by initiating passing patterns from deep midfield and will be central to Lobera’s plans for the team. Jahouh has recorded 78.1 passes per game in the league so far at an accuracy of 78.8%. He regains possession of the ball brilliantly too and has registered an incredible 7.37 tackles in each match in the ISL. The 32-year-old will be relied on to be break down the opposition’s attacks and launch attacking moves right from the middle of the lineup.
Mumbai City FC have roped in Spaniard Hernan Santana from Sporting Gijon on a season-long loan deal. The 30-year-old plays at the centre of the field and has turned up for Las Palmas for a major chunk of his career. Santana had played under Lobera’s tutelage at the Segunda Division outfit previously. That was one of the major factors behind Santana opting to move out of Spain for the first time in his professional career.
It appears that his playing style very replicates that of Jahouh, which is, disrupting the opposition’s offensive moves and making the game tick from the middle. Santana can engage in quick passes and interlinks well with other players. He can also probably be slotted further behind to provide defensive cover to the backline on occasions and a greater understanding of his skills will be evident as the upcoming season commences.
Tottenham Hotspur academy graduate Cy Goddard has been signed by Mumbai City FC on a loan move from his parent club Benevento Calcio. The Japanese midfielder had joined the Serie A club in 2018 but has made only a handful of appearances for them over the years. The 23-year-old plays in an advanced midfield position. Goddard joined Spurs as a nine-year-old and was associated with the London giants until 2018.
He made 16 appearances for them in the first division of Premier League 2 in 2016-17 season. Very little is known regarding what one can expect of the player presently. However, the clubs that he has been affiliated with over the years indicate that Cy Goddard carries immense potential. He can make immense use of the ISL and the platform that he has received if he manages to carve an impact in the game-time that he receives in the 2020-21 campaign.