Indian Football Transfers: East Bengal's Johnny Acosta signs for Costa Rican club UCR
Former East Bengal defender and 2018 FIFA World Cup player Johnny Acosta has signed for Costa Rican club UCR. The club currently plays in Liga FPD, the premier division of the Costa Rican league system, and finished tenth in the overall standings.
Johnny Acosta's signing with East Bengal had the entire Indian football fraternity talking as he became the first 2018 FIFA World Cup player to ply his trade in the country with the I-League club. The 35-year-old played in all of Costa Rica's Group E matches in the World Cup against Brazil, Switzerland, and Serbia but couldn't help the team reach the knockout stages of the tournament.
Johnny penned the deal with East Bengal on a reported annual fee of ₹1.36 crore and announced his arrival by scoring a goal on his debut against Mohun Bagan in the Calcutta Football League, which ended in a 2-2 draw.
Partnering with Borja Gomez in the heart of the defense for the Red and Golds, Johnny helped East Bengal keep four clean sheets in the I-League. They lost the championship to Chennai City FC by one point but his team had a good defensive record of conceding only 20 goals in 20 matches. Only Real Kashmir and Minerva Punjab let more goals in, both of whom had played a game less in the I-League.
Johnny announced two months earlier on Instagram that he would not renew his contract with East Bengal. The Costa Rican was extremely grateful to the fans and the club which had such a great history.
East Bengal knew of Johnny's departure beforehand and have started to act in the transfer window accordingly. The likes of Borja Gomez Perez, Kasim Aidara, and Jaime Santos Colado have been retained whereas Toni Dovale and Enrique Esqueda have decided to not renew their contract.
So far, East Bengal has signed only Indian players, Naorem Tondomba Singh, Pintu Mohata, Abhishek Ambekar, Boithang Haokip, and Lalthuammawia Ralte, from their respective I-League and ISL clubs. Their captain Lalrindika Ralte has also been given a two-year extension alongside their coach Alejandro Menendez.