Indian Super League (ISL) heavyweights Bengaluru FC have been dealt a huge blow ahead of the upcoming season as Brazilian attacker Raphael Augusto pulled out of the tournament at the last moment, citing 'personal reasons'.
The 29-year-old had joined the Blues on a two-year deal before the start of the 2019-20 campaign. He was very much in plans for this season as well and, in fact, was all set to travel to Goa and join the rest of the squad.
A two-time ISL winner with Chennaiyin FC, it suffices to say that the Brazilian midfielder made his mark in Indian football since coming to the ISL back in 2015. He played a key part in both those triumphs, providing the necessary creativity and guile from the middle of the park.
Known for his strong and imposing presence in midfield, his hold-up play and close control in terms of numbers, Augusto has scored six goals and provided seven assists in 71 ISL matches. Prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, Augusto moved to Bengaluru FC, bringing an end to his four-year stay in Chennai.
Last season though, he couldn’t carve the same impact, as he played only nine matches, registering just a single assist. Nevertheless, Carles Cuadrat and team were expecting him to slot in at No. 10 behind new recruit Cleiton Silva.
However, family problems meant Augusto would have to take a step back and the contract was mutually terminated by the club and the player. Although he wasn’t at his very best last season, the former Chennaiyin FC man’s departure came as a shock to the Blues management who have been left to find a suitable replacement with days left for the transfer window to end.
It will also be interesting to see what moves the Sunil Chhetri-led side in this window to strengthen their squad.
The likes of ATK Mohun Bagan FC, Mumbai City FC, Jamshedpur FC, FC Goa are all considerably stronger than last season and new entrants SC East Bengal aren’t taking things lightly either. It is imperative for Bengaluru to have a squad with enough depth so they can challenge for the title.