The 33-year-old, who helped the Sky Blues to a 1-0 win over Melbourne City in the A-League Grand Final, has been in talks with several ISL clubs over the summer, as reported by us. Hyderabad FC, FC Goa, even Bengaluru FC, at one point, were interested in securing his services. However, Mumbai always valued him the highest and pursued him for the longest time.
Le Fondre has scored 45 goals in 67 games across all competitions in his two-year spell with the harbour city club, winning two championships and a premiership. Previously, he enjoyed an extensive career in England featuring for Reading, Cardiff City, Bolton Wanderers, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic. The striker is known for his pace and eye for goal, he is said to be deadly inside the box.
His current contract at Sydney was supposed to run until mid-2021; the club was expected to trigger the one-year extension clause at the end of the 2019-20 season that would keep him until then.
However, with the A-League facing severe financial crunch owing to the impact of COVID-19 and rights holders Fox Sports drastically reducing funds, which may prompt a slashing of the salary cap, the future always seemed uncertain.
The English forward didn’t receive the contractual clarity he was seeking amid the threat of pay cuts and consequently, started looking for options elsewhere. It’s understood that he had offers from England and other clubs in the A-League, but it was Roy Krishna and David Williams’ (both former A-League stars) success in the ISL last season which piqued his interest about India.
Mumbai City, backed by the City Football Group (CFG), have been making all the right noises in the transfer market. First, they roped in former FC Goa coach Sergio Lobera. Then, they secured the signings of Mandar Rao Desai, Ahmed Jahouh, Mourtada Fall and Vikram Partap Singh.
The Islanders are further expected to rope in Hugo Boumous and Bartholomew Ogbeche and yet another Asian defender. In Le Fondre and Ogbeche, Mumbai could have two of the most prolific strikers in the ISL next season.