Kerala Blasters look set to make a firm assault on the Indian Super League (ISL) title next season and the capture of José Luis Espinosa Arroyo, better known as Tiri from Jamshedpur FC is certainly a statement of intent from the Kochi-based side.
It is no secret that Blasters desperately needed a quality centre-back to partner Sandesh Jhingan and Tiri is perhaps, the first few pieces of the jigsaw puzzle at Blasters.
Kerala’s defensive shortcomings have been brutally exposed this season and the numbers make grim reading. They have conceded 28 goals in 17 games played so far this season – a stat, which makes them the third worst team defensively. Their stats last season were strikingly similar. Therefore, Tiri’s arrival was imperative for Blasters’ to address the problems in the heart of their defence.
The talented central defender had a raft of top-flight sides interested in his services and as it became apparent he would leave Jamshedpur, Blasters made the first move and snapped him ahead of the competition, with the club knowing exactly what kind of player they were getting.
As a huge presence at the back, the Spanish defender comfortably leads the chart in most parameters. In terms of clearances, blocks, interceptions, and fouls per game – Tiri clearly comes out on top and has arguably been the best defender in the league over the last six seasons.
He’s also incredibly good with the ball at his feet and is adept at playing long balls and sending precise, pin-point field-length crosses into midfield that completely open up the opposition. When looking at it in that way, Tiri is the perfect defender, the perfect piece to fit in Kerala’s jig-saw puzzle.
With the arrival of Tiri, Blasters’ have made sure their defence is air-tight and that, if they fail to score, they don’t concede either. Although it would be fascinating to see how well Jhingan and Tiri would play together.
To Kerala, a centre-back like Tiri could be the difference between top four and otherwise. Without Tiri, Kerala could have headed into the abyss of mediocrity.