ISL domestic players draft analysis: Atletico de Kolkata
Total expenditure – 3.91 crore
Note: Value of each player in brackets
Goalkeepers: Subhashish Roychowdhury (37 lakh + 65% loan fee share)
Defenders: Arnab Mondal (25 lakh), Denzil Franco (44 lakh + 50% loan fee share), Kinshuk Debnath (17.4 lakh), Biswajit Saha (26 lakh + 25% loan fee share), Nallappan Mohanraj (32 lakh + 50% loan fee share)
Midfielders: Cavin Lobo (15 lakh), Climax Lawrence (30 lakh), Sanju Pradhan (70 lakh + 33% loan fee), Lester Fernandez (16 lakh + 50% loan fee share), Rakesh Masih (16 lakh + 50% loan fee share), Mohammed Rafique (10 lakh)
Forwards: Baljit Sahni (20 lakh), Mohammed Rafi (33 lakh + 25% loan fee share)
The Kolkata franchise is co-owned by Spanish champions Atletico Madrid with a Spanish head coach and pre-season is also expected to take place in the Spanish capital. But for the domestic players draft Mohun Bagan legend Jose Ramirez Barreto, who has been appointed as one of the assistant coaches, was providing the local insight. Atletico de Kolkata faced severe criticism for their day one selections as their first pick was East Bengal midfielder Cavin Lobo, who has quality but isn’t a matchwinner and has fitness issues. Even more questions were raised regarding the selections of Rakesh Masih, Biswajit Saha and Mohammed Rafi as none of them could find a place in a top I-League club last season. But day two proved to be more fruitful with each of their seven selections having played for the India senior national team in the last three years. Eventually Atletico de Kolkata ended up being the highest spenders.
Atletico de Kolkata picked up three of the best Indian defenders in Denzil Franco, Arnab Mondal and Kinshuk Debnath while on paper they have one of the most talented wide midfielders in former East Bengal captain Sanju Pradhan. East Bengal duo Baljit Sahni and Mohammed Rafique are versatile options as the former can play as a wide midfielder or forward while the latter can operate anywhere in midfield. 10 of the 14 players at some point of their career have played for the two big clubs of Kolkata so there is certainly no dearth of big-match experience.
Both their left backs Nallappan Mohanraj and Saha can prove to be erratic so they don’t look to be the best selections. The major drawback of Kolkata’s picks is the fact that the majority of their players have fitness problems. Only four of their 14 were regulars in the I-League last season with Saha not even featuring in the top flight and Lester Fernandes playing only 25 minutes in the I-League. Hence it remains to be seen if they can cope with the busy schedule of the ISL.
Player to Watch
The former East Bengal skipper was one of the costliest Indian players in the domestic pool but wasn’t picked until the eighth round. Sanju struggled for first-team action at Dempo and even lost his place in the national team. Thus the Sikkimese medio has plenty to prove in the inaugural season of the ISL and Atletico de Kolkata will be expecting plenty of goals and assists from him.