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Home Football ISL: What is going on at your club — Bengaluru FC

ISL: What is going on at your club — Bengaluru FC

In our new series, ‘What is going on at your club’,  we bring latest updates on everything that is going around at your favourite Indian football club. To start off, we pick Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Bengaluru FC, who after a few early signings, have remained largely silent in the transfer market so far.

Bengaluru FC have always done things their own way. Often hailed as a model football club that showed the rest of the country how a corporate setup can be utilized to manage and run a club efficiently, the Blues have been trailblazers since their inception in 2013.

With two I-League titles in four years since their debut campaign, two Federation Cup titles, an Indian Super League (ISL) title and a Super Cup to their name, the club has become synonymous with success and excellence.

The 2019-20 ISL campaign was a bit of a disappointment for the JSW Group owned club who bowed out of the tournament in the semi-final stage after defeat against eventual champions ATK FC. Now, with just two months left for the new season, the club are now looking forward to a fresh start with a number of new signings on board, both foreign and domestic.

The signings of the two 21-year-old defenders, Joe Zoherliana and Wungngayam Muirang, has signalled a strong intent from the club to nurture and develop domestic talent. The duo arrive from Aizawl FC and Gokulam Kerala FC respectively, and add on to others like goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte as well as defenders Pratik Chaudhari and Ajith Kumar who have also been signed recently. The club has also roped in Thoi Singh, the player many call ‘Indian Messi, one of the brightest prospects at the Reliance Football Young Champs academy.

Expectations are high on ex-Chennai City FC left back Ajith, who cost a significant transfer fee. With Nishu Kumar departing for Kerala Blasters in the summer, it is the young 23-year-old defender that Carles Cuadrat and the club management have put their on.

The club has also promoted young midfielder Naorem Roshan Singh from their reserve team and handed fresh deals to Leon Augustine, Edmund Lalrindika, Ajay Chhetri, Parag Shrivas and Namgyal Bhutia, further consolidating their stance on giving talented Indian players a chance at the top level.

These youngsters join a squad that boasts of established Indian players like the captain Sunil Chhetri himself, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Harmanjot Khabra,o Rahul Bheke and Udanta Singh, and they would be looking forward to picking the senior players’ brains in a bid to improve themselves over the course of the season.

What is interesting about this season’s squad however, is the management’s focus on carefully weighing the foreign options in the market before making any moves. Indeed, unlike the other major movers and shakers in the league like ATK Mohun Bagan FC and Mumbai City FC who already have most of their foreign recruits nailed, Bengaluru has been playing the waiting game with just one new foreign recruit till now.

That foreign recruit is in fact the Brazilian striker Cleiton Silva who has been offered a one-year deal with the option for an extension for an additional year. The 33-year-old arrives at the club from Thai outfit Suphanburi FC for whom he scored 11 goals last term and is the league’s all-time top scorer with 141 goals in 193 appearances. He won the Ligue 1 Golden Boot twice, in 2012 and 2016, and will be looking to impart a new dimension to a Bengaluru attack that managed a paltry 22 goals in 18 games in the league stage last season.

He is a versatile attacker who can play as a striker, a no. 10, and a winger. On top of that, Silva’s familiarity with Asian conditions, having played in China and Thailand previously, will be an added bonus for Head Coach Carles Cuadrat and the West Block Blues faithful should have a lot to be hopeful for.

The club has also handed new deals to defender Juanan and midfielders Dimas Delgado and fan favourite Erik Paartalu, making Silva their fourth foreign player for the upcoming season. Sources however say that Raphael Augusto and Deshorn Brown, two of last season’s arrivals who still have contracts at the club, might be dropped to make room for new arrivals. However, it is to be noted that since both the players have contracts, both parties have to come to some sort of arrangement and nothing is finalised yet.

It is understood that Bengaluru want to complete a deal with long-term target and former Blues attacker Miku Fedor but if it does not happen, they may consider another Miku-like forward. At the moment, the priority is to get someone who will get guaranteed goals.

There were also whispers about an offer on the table for Sandesh Jhingan but that doesn’t seem to be happening with the former Blasters defender closing in on a move to ATK Mohun Bagan. While another foreign defender will may come in to bolster the defence line, the squad does have enough experience already in their domestic ranks.

In midfield, there is no need for further additions. Dimas and Paartalu would be automatic choices but one cannot forget Suresh Singh Wangjam, the youngster who has impressed Cuadrat with his progress and is among one of the most improved players in the country.

All in all, it looks a decent squad on paper with a healthy balance between attack and defence. The arrival of Cleiton Silva and his prospective partnership with Sunil Chhetri is something that would excite a lot of fans and under an experienced manager like Cuadrat, the team would be looking to have a realistic shot at the title.

With the team set to train at their own facility in Bellary for a month and the transfer window open till 20th October, there is still some time for the remaining foreign signings to be made before the football extravaganza’s expected start on 21st November.

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