The transfer window for the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) season shut yesterday and there were a number of interesting deals that were announced this past week. Here we take a look at the major incomings of the week as all the squads start taking shape.
NorthEast United FC sign ex-QPR forward
→ John Abraham-owned NorthEast United FC completed the signing of Guinean international Idrissa Sylla. The former Anderlecht, Bastia and Queens Park Rangers striker joins from the Belgian League and is an active international for the Guinean national side, having represented them on 27 occasions. He became the Highlanders’ final foreign player after Khassa Camara, Federico Gallego, Kwesi Appiah, Benjamin Lambot, Dylan Fox and Luis Machado. Rated as a top glass dribbler and finisher, the 29-year-old would be looking forward to link-up with Kamara as well as star midfielder Gallego as the Highlanders look forward to a good ISL season.
Southern sides end the window on a high
→ Bengaluru FC, Chennaiyin FC and Hyderabad FC all announced new arrivals this week with a number of domestic and foreign recruits bolstering the respective squads. Bengaluru announced the signings of Kristian Opseth and Fran Gonzalez. The Norwegian striker and Spanish defender join the Blues after spells at Adelaide United FC and Mohun Bagan respectively. They would be plugging gaps in two positions where Carles Cuadrat’s side clearly lack depth, and also provide the squad with experience and big-match nous.
→ Chennaiyin FC have bagged the signature of former 2. Bundesliga top-scorer Jakub Sylvestr who joins after a stint at Israeli top flight club Hapoel Haifa FC. The 31-year-old becomes the first Slovak to play in the Indian Super League (ISL). Chennaiyin’s seventh and final foreign recruit has also played for German second division outfit Erzgebirge Aue, as well as FC Nuremberg and SC Paderborn. He also has 6 appearances for his country having last turned out for them in 2014 against Malta.
→ Manuel Roca’s Hyderabad FC have looked domestically in the final days of the transfer window with as many as three youngsters joining the side from All India Football Federation’s developmental team Indian Arrows. Akash Mishra, Rohit Danu and Biaka Jongte have all signed with the club till the end of the 2022-23 season. Mishra, who is primarily a full-back, spent three years training in Germany and was an integral part of India’s U-18 squad that won the SAFF Championships in 2019. Centre-forward Danu, meanwhile, was a trainee at the AIFF Elite Academy and was the youngest member of the Indian contingent at the U-17 World Cup in 2017. He also became the youngest ever goal-scorer in the I-League when he scored against Aizawl FC in January 2019. Lastly, Biaka, who was plucked from the local football scene in Mizoram, is a talented shot-stopper who broke through during the Indian U-17s SAFF Championship victory in 2017. A crucial part of multiple age-group sides, he also played an important role in India’s victory in the four-nation tournament in Serbia.
SC East Bengal and Mumbai City FC on overdrive
→ ISL new-entrants SC East Bengal have had an extremely busy week in terms of the incomings at the club. It was understood that the club would announce all their new signings once Robbie Fowler was confirmed as the head coach and the club management did not disappoint the fans with as many as seven new recruits. While the signing of Jeje Lalpekhlua is the obvious big one, fans should also be excited about the likes of Jacques Maghoma, Aaron-Amadi Halloway, Matti Steinmann and Narayan Das. While Congolese midfielder Maghoma is a Tottenham Hotspur academy graduate and has an impressive CV including spells at Birmingham City and Sheffield Wednesday, Halloway arrives from Brisbane Roar having previously worked with Fowler at the A-League club. Additionally, Steinmann is another A-League recruit and is joining the Red and Golds after a season with Wellington Phoenix. He has also played for Hamburger SV and Mainz in Germany and at 25, is an immense prospect.
Similarly, Indian left-back Narayan Das is another extremely shrewd signing for the Bangals. Having made 39 tackles and 93 clearances in the ISL last season, Das is a well-established defender who has the additional advantage of understanding the club’s culture and values since he has donned the red and yellow shirt twice before in his career, in 2015-16 and 2016-17. Last but not the least, Rana Gharami, Yumnam Gopi Singh and Surchandra Singh are three other players to look out for this season with the first two impressing in the recently concluded I-League qualifiers for FC Bengaluru United and Bhawanipore FC respectively, and the third arriving after a stop-start season at Mumbai City FC.
→ The Islanders have been on a signing spree of their own with as many as six new arrivals in the final couple of days in the transfer window. Mourtada Fall and Hugo Boumous arrive from FC Goa and immediately become two of the most prized assets within the squad considering their performances for the Gaurs last season. Farukh Chaudhary returns to his home state after three years at Jamshedpur FC, having established himself as one of the most promising Indian players in the side last term.
Defender Mohamad Rakip is another domestic success story that finds itself at the start of a new chapter in Mumbai. The 20-year-old impressed while at Kerala Blasters, making 26 appearances in the past two seasons for the club. Furthermore, in strikers Bartholomew Ogbeche and Adam Le Fondre, Mumbai have stumbled upon an extremely potent centre-forward duo with both the players having the skill and ability to destroy defences on their day. While Ogbeche has proved that with Kerala Blasters and NorthEast United, Le Fondre will be raring to go in his new surroundings having led Sydney FC to two Grand Final wins and one Premier in two seasons, netting 45 goals and 4 assists in 67 appearances along the way.