ISL 2017: Jamshedpur FC sign former Premier League defender Andre Bikey
What's the story?
Tata Steel's new Indian Super League franchise, Jamshedpur FC, have announced the signing of Andre Bikey. The 6 ft centre-back has previous ISL experience and will fit in well with Jamshedpur FC's policy of roping in players who have played in the ISL in the past.
In case you didn't know...
Bikey is a Cameroon international but hasn't played for his country since 2010. The towering defender played at NorthEast United in the 2015 season of the ISL and joined FC Pune City last year, but his time with the Stallions was cut short due to an injury sustained in pre-season.
The heart of the matter
Bikey becomes Jamshedpur FC's fifth foreign signing after Tiri, Sameehg Doutie, Memo and Kervens Belfort. All four of Jamshedpur FC's foreign signings so far have had ISL experience in the past, and Bikey also fits the demands of head coach Steve Coppell.
Coppell is in his second year in the ISL after a stint with Kerala Blasters last year. The 62-year-old had Bikey as one of his players during Reading's short spell in the Premier League. The 32-year-old Cameroonian made 37 Premier League appearances under Coppell and scored three goals, a handsome return for a defender.
Bikey's powerful presence at the heart of NorthEast United's defence in the 2015 ISL saw the Highlanders almost qualify for the playoffs under then head coach Cesar Farias. He last played for Port Vale after leaving Pune City and played seven times for the League One side.
Jamshedpur FC have adopted a different approach to signing players from their rival clubs. While there has been no hint of a scattergun approach by Coppell and co, their prerequisite of prior ISL experience could stand them in good stead for the upcoming campaign, which starts on 17th November. Although not a lot of people has backed Jamshedpur FC to be title challengers next season, the presence of Coppell and a few tried and tested international ISL stars could tilt the title race in their favour come 2018.
Bikey was a late replacement for Miguel Garcia at NorthEast two seasons ago and ended up impressing his watchers. His second ISL campaign at Pune City was wrecked by injury, but Jamshedpur FC could be the club where Bikey could become a bonafide ISL star.