Two-time Indian Super League (ISL) champions Chennaiyin FC have signed Portuguese attacker Esmael Goncalves on a free transfer for the upcoming ISL season. Esmael, or Isma, as he is fondly called, joins the club after a spell at Japanese club Matsumoto Yamaga and is capable of playing anywhere across the front line.
The 29-year-old has played for a number of clubs including St. Mirren (Scotland), Veria (Greece), APOEL Nicosia and Anorthosis Famagusta (Cyprus), as well as Boavista (Portugal) and Nice (France) during his developmental years. The former Portugal U-21 international has won the Scottish League Cup with St.Mirren and has played in both the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League previously.
With 75 career goals in close to 250 appearances, the Portuguese is a proven goal scorer, something that Chennaiyin coach Csaba Laszlo touched upon. “Isma has a proven eye for goal with prior experience of playing in Asia. He has the capabilities of a lethal marksman and we hope to benefit from his versatility in the forward areas,” he said. Isma meanwhile is elated at joining the club and has mentioned that his conversations with Laszlo played a huge part in convincing him to be a part of the project. “It feels great to join Chennaiyin FC, a club that represents a city with rich culture and a wonderful fan base. I will work extremely hard to fulfil what my team and coaches expect from me,” he added.
Having already played in Asia before, he should be able to hit the ground running in Indian conditions and can prove to be a handful for his opponents, according to his coach. His purchase is the first out and out attacking signing that the club has made this season, following on from the acquisitions of Enes Sipovic and Memo Moura in defence and Rafael Crivellaro in midfield.