Which Indian Super League (ISL) club enjoyed the best transfer window? Who suffered the worst? What was the best signing and what was the most surprising one? Is there a big signing that might just go wrong? Which new signing will make ISL his new hunting ground and who is the most under-rated signing?
After the official transfer window that allows ISL clubs to trade across the world closed last week, The Bridge tried to search for the answers to those questions and more through a survey. More than 1000 Indian football fans participated in the survey wherein five basic questions were asked.
So without further ado, let’s see what the fans think about the transfer window.
# 1 Which was the best transfer of the window?
There were quite a few big transfers in this summer window as ISL clubs set about to strengthen their squads. FC Goa, SC East Bengal, Mumbai City FC, ATK Mohun Bagan, Kerala Blasters, Bengaluru FC, Jamshedpur FC, Odisha FC all added big names from around the world to their ranks. But when it comes to the best transfer of the window, fans were mostly divided between two names — Adam Le Fondre and Vicente Gomez.
In the end, Sydney FC star Le Fondre, who has joined Mumbai on loan for this season, triumphed with 22% of the votes while former LaLiga midfielder Gomez got 16% of the votes. Others voted for Gary Hooper, Hugo Boumous, Sandesh Jhingan, Anthony Pilkington, Jacques Maghoma, Igor Angulo, Cleiton Silva and even Esmael Goncalves.
One of the fans explained why he chose Le Fondre over Gomez, “You have to look at the most recent performances. Le Fondre, over the last two seasons, has been one of the highest scoring forwards in the A-League and you can very well see what impact Roy Krishna made last season after enjoying similar scoring records Down Under. My bet is that Le Fondre will be amongst the top scorers in the ISL this season. He is a brilliant signing for Mumbai City.”
#2 Which was the worst transfer of the window?
One sentence: Aaron Amadi-Holloway to SC East Bengal. “A striker who has scored just 13 goals in over 180 matches through his career, really? Who scored one goal in the A-League last season… Bringing him in seems pointless but then again East Bengal had little time to do their business and (Robbie) Fowler knows what he is getting, so let’s see. On paper, he looks like the worst signing to be very honest,” a fan rued.
That wasn’t the only time that the former Brisbane Roar striker, who is the only foreign striker East Bengal have signed in this window, was mentioned — Holloway polled 20.7% of the vote. “My neighbour has a better goal-scoring rate in para (local) football than Holloway, East Bengal might well have signed him up,” joked another fan.
Chennaiyin FC’s summer acquisition Memo Moura came out second in this category with 7.9% votes while Jamshedpur FC’s Asian signing Nicholas Fitzgerald was third with 7.1%. Some even said that ATK Mohun Bagan FC didn’t need Bradden Inman to fulfill their AFC quota, as the Green and Maroons already have enough options in that role.
Unsurprisingly, some Kerala Blasters fans voted for Sandesh Jhingan to ATKMB as the worst transfer of the season — unsurprising, given their most favourite player had left suddenly and that too, for a rival club.
#3 Which was the most surprising transfer of the window?
When it came to the most surprising transfer, former Mohun Bagan star Fran Gonzalez was mentioned more than anyone else, with a whopping 55.1% of the fans voting for him, largely because of the tussle with the new management at ATK Mohun Bagan.
Gonzalez, who helped Bagan win the I-League title last season, had a two-year contract with the Green and Maroons. However, following Bagan’s merger with ATK FC, his future became uncertain. Gonzalez took to social media to allege that in spite of having a year remaining in his contract there was no communication from the club’s side. Even several enquiries by his lawyer had gone unanswered.
Under the circumstances, it was assumed that ATKMB would pay him a severance fee and cut all ties, but at the last moment Bengaluru FC swooped in on deadline day to sign the Spanish defender on a season-long deal.
“None of us expected it. We knew (Albert) Serran might not stay and BFC would go for a foriegn defender, but Fran was completely out of the blue,” a Blues faithful remarked.
Chennaiyin’s Memo was second in this category with 9.7% votes while Odisha FC’s Cole Alexander polled in 7% votes.
#4 Which club had the best window?
No prizes for guessing who won this category.
As many as 40.4% of the fans surveyed voted for Mumbai City FC. The Islanders, backed by the economic prowess of the City Football Group (CFG), made some high profile moves in the transfer window including the likes of Adam Le Fondre, Bartholomew Ogbeche, Hugo Boumous and others.
Not just their foreign acquisitions, the domestic players Mumbai signed — Farukh Chaudhury, Mandar Rao Dessai, Vikram Partap Singh, etc. — are all of high breed which makes them one of the strongest teams on paper ahead of the season.
19.1% said Kerala Blasters had the best transfer window, buoyed by the contract extensions of local stars Sahal Abdul Samad, Rahul KP, etc. and the impressive foreign signings. From Vicente Gomez to Gary Hooper, Blasters fans are quite psyched about their foreign stars for the upcoming season. However, given that they lost Ogbeche and Jhingan and Tiri despite having them, it is a little surprise that they are so high up in this category.
Odisha FC, undoubtedly, had one of their better transfer windows where they brought in an exciting mix of experienced and young players. “It will be interesting to see how they perform under Stuart Baxter. They have a solid group of young, domestic players and add to that the experience of Steven Taylor, Marcelinho and others. They can be the dark horses this season,” a fan voiced.
#5 Which club had the worst window?
While there was a pretty evident answer to which club had the worst window, this category had no clear winner. SC East Bengal polled 19.3%, Chennaiyin got 16.8% while Bengaluru FC raked in 15.8% of the votes.
“East Bengal had the least amount of time to wrap up their business after securing investors very, very late. Chennaiyin, as well, were hurt by coach Owen Coyle’s sudden departure and the absence of any big-name signings but Bengaluru FC just missed too many.”
“Bengaluru started well with Cleiton Silva’s signing, but they missed their major target Miku. They waited too long for him and, in the end, were left with less options to look at in the striking department.”
And, BOOM!💥The Blues can confirm that Norwegian striker Kristian Opseth and Spanish defender Fran Gonzalez have signed season-long deals with the club. 🔵🔥
— Bengaluru FC (@bengalurufc) October 20, 2020
“The deadline day capture of Kristian Opseth does not imbibe that confidence among the BFC fans, they could have gone for Le Fondre or Hooper or Ogbeche.”.
That gives a flavour of the feeling among fans about what went on at Bengaluru this summer.
In the case of East Bengal, they really could not have done much. After weeks of speculation, they were able to secure an entry to the ISL at the very last moment. By then, most Indian A-listers had been taken off the market.
The Red and Golds concentrated on their foreign signings and in spite of making some good signings in Jacques Maghoma, and Matti Steinmann, fans aren’t as convinced with Holloway or Scott Neville while Pilkington is known for his fitness issues.