ISL 2017: Ahead of transfer deadline day, NorthEast United's lack of signings frustrates their fans
The Highlanders have signed zero foreign players so far.
Ask any fan of the Indian Super League franchise, NorthEast United, about the club's transfer strategy, the answer would, in all probability, be one that explains the confusion and inactivity surrounding it. NorthEast's foreign transfer policy has been a mystery at best, with no international player yet been announced for the 2017-18 ISL.
According to FIFA, India's summer transfer window closes tomorrow, the 31st of August. That means no Indian club can deal with any football club for the transfer of a player until the January 2018 window opens. However, players who are unattached to any club, or free agents, can move regardless of the time of the year, and ISL clubs usually sign foreign players who are free agents, as the transfer activity this summer and previous years has shown.
That said, out of the 47 foreign players that have joined various ISL clubs over the course of this summer, none has been signed by NorthEast. There is a flurry of activity going on behind the scenes at the club as I pen this, but that has been the case all throughout the summer. The reason to worry is that the club have failed to bring in a single player so far, or so it seems.
Brazilian playmaker Marcinho has been listed as a NorthEast United player on the reliable transfermarkt.com, but that aside, there has been no hint of an overseas player joining the club. The noises were there long before Robbie Keane and Dimitar Berbatov signed for ATK and Kerala Blasters respectively, something that has been strangely missing from NorthEast's transfer activity so far.
So much so, that the club's fans have been questioning it for quite a while now. New head coach Joao de Deus only landed in Guwahati a week ago and going by the look of things, it is looking increasingly certain that the Highlanders will endure another disappointing ISL campaign in 2017-18, given that not even one foreigner has been roped in and time is at a premium to help the players from abroad settle into their new confines of northeast India.
That perhaps explains the frustrations of the club's faithful, who haven't been shy about expressing it. Here are a few social media reactions that highlight the state of the club's fans.
All of that said, the Highlanders faithful must not lose their patience just yet. The club's head of recruitment, Siddhant Makkar, has reassured them about the club's health which means the next few weeks leading up to the ISL kick-off on 17th November should bring about more excitement to one of the biggest ISL fan bases around.