What’s the story?
Kerala Blasters CEO Varun Tripuraneni has expressed his desire to have two squads in the future, one the first choice squad and the other the reserve squad.
Speaking at the unveiling of head coach Rene Meulensteen in Kochi yesterday, Tripuraneni said: “We do have plans to have a reserve squad. We are looking to have some I-League tie ups where we can loan some players.”
Kerala Blasters are among the most successful Indian Super League clubs, having reached the final two times in three seasons, albeit losing on both occasions to ATK.
The 2017/18 ISL season promises to be different from the past seasons because of an increase in the number of teams and a host of new changes. New rules include the extension of the league's duration, the reduction in the number of foreigners allowed per starting eleven among others
The heart of the matter
Meulensteen had arrived in India before Sunday’s ISL draft but was formally unveiled today. The former Manchester United assistant manager has been received warmly by the frenzied Kerala fans.
The Blasters signed 13 Indian players in the draft and also sealed the return of star striker Iain Hume to the club on Monday. Hume is the all-time ISL top scorer with 23 goals in three seasons. With the club’s focus on developing young talents, having a reserve team will serve their as well as the player’s purpose.
Meulensteen is known for developing young players into stars, Cristiano Ronaldo’s name comes to mind. The Dutchman’s United connection has been well-trumpeted by the club ever since his appointment, and it was about time the club had Manchester United-esque structures of functioning.
With a focus on developing strong backup options for the first team, the reserve team's I-League exposure will stand to serve the Blasters well. They already have two Kerala players in their team in the form of CK Vineeth and Rino Anto, players who can be guiding light for younger players.
Like most other ISL clubs, Kerala Blasters have also stated their intentions of developing football at the bottom and giving youngsters a platform to eventually go on and play in the lucrative ISL.
There is no dearth of footballing talent in Kerala, hence the Blasters could enjoy a steady supply of players into their first team in the future if Tripuraneni’s plans are executed.