ISL 2017: Why Kerala Blasters will not sign an 8th foreigner this summer?
What's the story?
Monday was the deadline for all the ISL clubs to complete their foreign signings in time for the upcoming season. Among the 10 teams, eight of them decided to exercise their full quota of eight foreigners but only two opted to sign just eight. Kerala Blasters and Delhi Dynamos are the only clubs who have completed their squad one short of the allowed quota of foreign recruits.
It is believed that Kerala Blasters had players in mind to fill up their quota but then decided against that notion after being satisfied by their team composition.
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FC Goa, Mumbai City FC and Bengaluru FC were the quickest to do their summer businesses whereas Jamshedpur FC's eighth foreign signing, an unnamed Colombian centre forward, is yet to be unveiled because of some visa difficulties.
The heart of the matter
After making seven signings, Kerala Blasters have termed it enough to challenge for the top honours in season four. The Blasters are also one of the only clubs to sign a marquee player this summer in the form of former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov despite the league's governing body taking off the marquee player mandate.
Their new foreign signings include Berbatov, Wes Brown, Paul Rachubka, Mark Sifneos, Courage Pekuson, Nemanja Lakic-Pesic and Iain Hume. It had been expected that they would rope in a midfielder as their final international recruit but there will be no more arrivals at the club this summer ahead of the new season.
The 2017-18 Indian Super League campaign starts in mid-November and Kerala Blasters will be heading to Marbella, Spain for their pre-season tour. Berbatov has already started his fine-tuning with Bulgarian top-flight club Beroe before he links up with his new teammates.
However, Kerala Blasters can sign their eighth foreigner if they wish to in January 2018. ISL rules state that any club can sign recruitments between January 1 to January 31. But with Indian transfer window opening on the 15th of January, players can officially be roped in from the 16th January.
Despite the finalists of the 2016 ISL signing one less foreign player than 8 of their counterparts, their Indian contingent coupled with their star signings make Rene Meulensteen's men one of the early favourites for the title.