Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Kerala Blasters FC have given their rising star Sahal Abdul Samad a major new contract to reflect his status as a key member of the squad, the club is set to announce on Wednesday. The new deal is a three-year extension on the existing contract, which means Sahal is now tied down until 2025.
The 23-year-old had signed an extension only last season that would have kept him at Kochi until 2022. However, other clubs have constantly been eyeing him, waiting for an opportunity to pounce and lure him away. In fact, one ISL club believed that Sahal would join them once his current contract expires in 2023.
Kerala Blasters sensed the need to offer their talented youngster a much improved deal to fend off the competition. After all, Sahal has been dubbed by many, including legends like Bhaichung Bhutia, IM Vijayan and more, as the next big thing in Indian football. Bengaluru FC owner Parth Jindal had openly expressed his desire of stealing the Kannur-boy away from Kerala.
The player, on his part, wanted to stay at Kerala, a club which had given him the chance of playing professional football and fulfilling his dream. In a recent interview with us, Sahal had said, “I am very happy to be a part of Kerala Blasters, a club that focuses more on identifying young talents in India and creating opportunities for them. I am eagerly looking forward to the upcoming ISL season under our new coach Kibu Vicuna. I am sure all of us will definitely benefit from his vast experience in football.”
Hence, when the new contract was offered, he did not have to ponder much. Kerala, under Kibu Vicuna, are slowly but surely setting up shop for the upcoming season. Along with Sahal, they have also extended the contract of another local youngster in Rahul KP. They have already confirmed the signings of Nishu Kumar and Denechandra Meitei.
If their transfer business so far is any indication, it is evident that Kerala are planning for the future well ahead. From the 2021-22 season, the number of foreigners in the playing XI will be reduced to four which means domestic players will be given more importance. To challenge for the title, a club can no longer depend on star foreigners. Instead, it would ideally need a strong base of Indian players and that’s exactly what Kerala are doing.