The summer transfer window ends in about 15 days from now and while most Indian Super League (ISL) clubs have wrapped up their new foreign signings, few like East Bengal FC, Bengaluru FC, Chennaiyin FC and Kerala Blasters FC still have quite some work to do.
We will take an in-depth look at each ISL club’s existing foreign contingents and attempt to find out where they need to strengthen before deadline day.
ATK Mohun Bagan FC
ATK Mohun Bagan FC were one of the first teams to complete all their signings and retentions ahead of the new season. They retained five of the foreigners who lifted the ISL title last season and roped in Spanish defender Tiri and Australian Bradden Inman from Brisbane Roar for a transfer fee, thus completing their quota of seven foreigners in the squad.
David Williams and Roy Krishna played an integral role in ATK's title win (Source: ISL)
Roy Krishna, ATK FC’s top scorer last season, David Williams, Edu Garcia, Carl McHugh and Javi Hernandez were among the foreigners retained.
If there is one team, who do not need to make any more moves in the transfer window, it’s probably Antonio Habas’ team.
Here’s how their foreign contingent looks —
Inman (A), Tiri, McHugh, Williams (A), Edu, Javi, Krishna
At this moment, contractually speaking, Bengaluru FC have 5 foreigners on their ranks — new signing Cleiton Silva, Dimas Delgado, Eric Paartalu (fulfils the Asian quota), Juanan, Rafael Augusto and Deshorn Brown.
However, sources say that Augusto and Brown are likely to be dropped, either by mutual consent or if there’s any offer for either player. The club wants a striker capable of scoring goals; their first choice was obviously former marksman Miku but the Spaniard joined Deportivo La Coruna last week.
After realising Miku was not coming, Bengaluru turned their attention to another experienced striker who has since signed a contract (yet to be made official) with a rival ISL club. It’s understood that Carles Cuadrat now has a three-man shortlist and a final decision is likely this week.
Bengaluru FC first wants to sort out it’s striker problems before turning to defence. It will be interesting to see if they retain Spaniard Albert Serran of go for a new foreign defender.
Here’s how the Blues’ foreign contingent looks —
Dimas, Paartalu (A), Cleiton, Brown, Augusto, Juanan
Last season’s runners up Chennaiyin FC were dealt a shocking blow when coach Owen Coyle and star striker Nerijus Valskis both left for Jamshedpur FC in the summer. However, over the last month or so, they seem to have recovered considerably.
In Csaba Lsazlo, they have an experienced coach at the helm, and as for foreign recruitments, they have made some good moves so far. First, Rafael Crivellaro was tied down with a new contract, then they followed it up by retaining defender Eli Sabia.
Enes Sipovic and Memo Moura, two more defensive players, have been signed since, so it can be said that there will be no more defensive acquisitions in this window. What Chennaiyin should be looking at with priority is a quality striker to replace Valskis who scored 15 goals last season, and then, a second striker.
They still can get 3 more foreigners, 1 of whom should be an Asian player. If they want a seventh foreigner, looking at their domestic strengths, the two-time champions should get a winger — they have been strongly linked with Brazilian winger Rafael Silva. It will be interesting to see how they act in the coming two weeks.
Here’s how Chennaiyin’s foreign contingent looks —
Eli Sabia, Sipovic, Memo, Crivellaro
East Bengal FC
Kolkata giants East Bengal FC have the most work to do before the transfer window closes in a couple of weeks. After a late entry to the country’s premier league, ISL, they are yet to finalise all documents with their investors and hence all official announcements are pending.
As a result, despite already finalising their coach, they have only been able to hold talks with potential signings.
Earlier in the summer, the club had made a host of domestic signings and also signed Indo-Iranian winger Omid Singh. However, word is, the new coach is taking stock of the existing squad and can do away with some of the players.
Danny Fox challenging Gareth Bale during his Southampton days (Source: Zimbio)
As of now, the Red and Golds, under the instruction of their new coach, have held advanced talks with Scottish defender Danny Fox, who has played in the Premier League for Southampton and Burnley, and Brisbane Roar’s Scott Neville. The club has also reportedly been in talks with former Celtic star Anthony Stokes over a possible move and former Bournemouth midfielder Andrew Surman as well as two Irish footballers with Premier league experience.
However, it remains to be seen which deals eventually materialise. It will be a busy couple of weeks for the officials, they have a lot to do and little time at hand.
FC Goa is another team who seem to have completed all their foriegn as well as domestic signings. They have room to fit in one more foreigner if required but it doesn’t look like they are going to, at least this window.
Although they have had to undergo a massive rebuild following the departures of Mourtada Fall, Ahmed Jahouh, Hugo Boumous, Ferran Corominas and retirement of Carlos Pena, Goa have managed to build a strong squad.
Igor Angulo (Source: Mundodeportivo)
Edu Bedia is the only foreigner to be retained from last season. Then, in new arrival Igor Angulo they have a striker with proven goal scoring feats, Jorge Ortiz Mendoza brings versatility in midfield, Alberto Noguera offers creativity, and that’s the attack sorted. Ivan Gonzalez and Aussie defender James Donachie bring solidity and experience in the back line.
Here’s how last season’s table-toppers foreign bench looks like —
Igor, Ortiz, Noguera, Edu, Ivan, Donachie (A)
Hyderabad FC, after a disappointing debut season in the ISL, were dealt a huge blow in the summer when LaLiga giants Barcelona came calling for their head coach Albert Roca. While the club has since brought in Maneul Marquez Roca was brought in as replacement, their activity in the transfer market has also been commendable.
The acquisitions of Lluis Sastre, Joel Chianese, Joao Victor, Odei Onaindia, Fran Sandaza and Aridane Santana appear to be shrewd. Santana did impress with 9 goals from 15 matches for Odisha last season and the other Spaniard, Sandaza, 35, brings with him bags of experience. Chianese is a versatile winger who can be used anywhere across the front three.
In Sastre and Victor, Hyderabad have two solid central midfielders while Onaindia is a very good defensive option.
With six foreigners already in place, it will be interesting to see whether they add a seventh foreigner or retain Nestor Gordillo from last season. Gordillo has an existing contract but there is no clarity at the moment on whether the club wants to keep him or not.
Here’s how Hyderabad’s foreign department looks —
Fran Sandaza, Aridane Santana, Joel Chianese (A), Lluis Sastre, Onaindia, Joao Victor, Néstor Gordillo (*)
While Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan hogged all the limelight in this transfer window, it was Jamshedpur FC who did some really good business in the summer.
From Nerijus Valskis to captain Peter Hartley, Alex Lima to Stephen Eze, all the new signings are quality players and proven customers. Apart from that Aitor Monroy is expected to continue while the club also has an existing contract with David Grande.
This means they already have six foreigners in their ranks but the mandatory Asian quota is yet to be fulfilled. Looking at the current composition the Asian foreigner could be a winger or even a forward.
Here’s how Jamshedpur’s foreign department looks like —
Valskis, Alex Lima, Stephen Eze, Peter Hartley, Monroy, Grande
Kerala Blasters FC
With the Covid-19 hitting the coffers at Kerala Blasters, the team management has had to make do with a considerably smaller budget this summer. As a result, all initial plans went for a toss. The club lost Tiri, Bartholomew Ogbeche as well as Sandesh Jhingan all within a gap of a few weeks.
However, since then, the Blasters have recovered. They have managed to tie down their domestic stars with long term contracts while also signing Vicente Gomez, Facundo Pereyra, and Gary Hooper. Sergio Cidoncha is also expected to stay while Zimbabwean defender Costa Nhamoinesu has reportedly agreed to join.
This means that five foreigners are complete for the Kochi-based outfit and two are left, one of which will be an Asian. It will be interesting to see if Kerala go for an Asian forward, in that case they can go for any foreign defender and vice versa. For a couple of weeks, they were in talks with a striker, who recently acquired an Australian passport.
However, having represented another nation in internationals, he wasn’t eligible as an AFC player. So, the club decided to move on to other prospects. This indicates that Kerala are looking to sign an Asian forward only, maybe they have another defender already in mind?
Here’s how Kerala’s foreign line up looks like —
Vicente Gomez, Facundo Pereyra, Gary Hooper, Sergio Cidoncha
Mumbai City FC
Mumbai City fans have been worried for weeks when they have the least reason to be. Indeed, the club is yet to make any official announcements but that doesn’t mean they have been sitting quietly in the transfer market, especially after receiving the mammoth financial backing from the City Football Group (CFG).
It is understood that the club has already agreed terms with Bartholomew Ogbeche, Adam Le Fondre, Hugo Boumous, Ahmed Jahouh, and Mourtada Fall. They were also in talks with Spanish midfielder Hernan Santana but with the latest revelation that Tottenham Hotspur academy product Cy Goddard has signed on a loan deal from Serie A side Benevento Calcio, it is likely that Santana might not eventually sign.
Having missed out on signing Sandesh Jhingan, inbound coach Sergio Lobera would surely want a foreign defender to play alongside Fall. This is where Mumbai should be looking to bolster, a quality Asian defender is what they should be in the market for.
Here's how their current foreign roaster looks like —
Bartholomew Ogbeche, Adam Le Fondre, Hugo Boumous, Ahmed Jahouh, Mourtada Fall, Cy Goddard (A)
NorthEast United FC
Quitely, but steadily, NorthEast United have completed five foreign signings already, including the mandatory Asian signing.
The John Abraham-owned franchise already had Federico Gallego, who had signed a 2-year deal last season. They further added Portuguese winger Luis Machado, Belgian defender Benjamin Lambot, defensive midfielder Khassa Camara and Australian defender Dylan Fox.
Dylan Fox (Source: A-League)
Given their tight budget, it is unlikely that Gerard Nus will be given the option to sign a seventh foreigner. For his final signing, he should be looking at a quality striker, someone who could light up the league like Ogbeche did a couple of years back, or maybe even a central midfielder.
Here’s how NorthEast’s foreign department looks —
Machado, Gallego, Dylan Fox (A), Benjamin Lambot, Khassa Camara
Odisha FC have made quite a few interesting acquisitions this summer. They started off with some exciting new domestic signings before adding foreign arsenal to bolster the squad.
Steven Taylor (Source: Stuff/twitter)
Former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor, of course, headlines their transfer activities. Other arrivals include Marcelinho, Manuel Onwu, Diego Mauricio, Australian Jacob Tratt. Midfielder Diawandou Diagne still has a year left on his contract but he might be dropped before the season starts.
This indicates that Odisha boss Stuart Baxter will look to sign at least one more foreigner, probably a central midfielder before the window closes. Also, there might be a surprise twist to the tale but let’s hold on to that one for now.
Here's what Odisha's foreign contingent looks like:
Steven Taylor, Marcelinho, Onwu, Tratt (A), Diego Maurício, Diawandou Diagne (*)