ISL 2017: How Gurpreet Singh Sandhu almost signed for Boavista before BFC move
Bengaluru FC announced the signing of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu earlier today, sparking wild enthusiasm among Indian football fans in the process. The 25-year-old makes a comeback to Indian domestic football after a three-year stay abroad in Norway with Stabaek.
However, the 6ft 4in shot stopper had the chance to prolong his stay outside India only for his need for playing regular first-team football ahead of 2019's AFC Asian Cup finals, for which India are well-set to qualify.
According to Goal India, the India international was in touch with Portuguese top-flight club Boavista before his eventual switch to Bengaluru FC. Gurpreet's representatives had negotiations with the Boavista hierarchy as the player was on the lookout for a new challenge ahead of his contract expiry at Stabaek in December this year.
The 15-time capped Indian national team regular had also explored options to go on loan to an Indian club for the ISL while being on the books of Boavista, but that ultimately fell through. One key deal breaker was the presence of three goalkeepers at Boavista already.
The Portuguese outfit, who finished ninth in the Liga NOS last season, had Vagner, Raphael Spiegel and Assis on their books, hence going for another goalkeeper in Gurpreet made little sense for Os Axadrezados. Spiegel and Assis were signed this summer. Furthermore, the fee that Stabaek asked for a player who had only six months remaining on his contract put off the former Portuguese champions.
All the while, Bengaluru FC's hierarchy held talks with Gurpreet's agents and a day before Norway's transfer deadline day, a deal was reached between the goalkeeper and the Indian Federation Cup champions. The Blues paid Stabaek's asking price - reportedly different from the valuation Boavista received - and got their man just in time before the 8 pm deadline yesterday.
Gurpreet will have a big role to play for the Blues in their first ever ISL campaign later this year. Bengaluru FC made a big impression on their I-League debut - winning the title - and a repeat trick is now well within their reach now that they have one of the most important squad positions settled.
Given the interest he commanded, Gurpreet's door to European football isn't yet closed. His decision to leave Stabaek for the ISL is understandable given his limited playing time in Norway. No manager at the Norwegian club ever trusted him to the fullest, turning to the Ivorian Sayouba Mande at the first sign of trouble.
The goalkeeper's position in football is a unique one, one that is the foundation of a team's designs in general play, and rotation is minimal. At Bengaluru FC, Gurpreet will have the guarantee of regular playing time and is almost certain to improve himself playing alongside fellow Indian team regulars like Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh.