ISL Draft 2017: Why Delhi Dynamos didn't retain Anas Edathodika
It was no surprise that Anas Edathodika was selected with the first pick of the 2017 ISL Draft by the new Jamshedpur-based franchise christened as Jamshedpur FC. The winner of the Football Player's Association of India's (FPAI's) Player of the Year has been arguably the best defender in the country and was also awarded the Defender of the Year a month back in the AIFF Awards night for his performances in the I-League with Mohun Bagan.
Then why did Delhi Dynamos, the team with which he first gained recognition two years back not retain him? The reason was a purely financial one league sources tell Sportskeeda. "His asking price was too high and Delhi were just not ready. Anas was hellbent on getting INR 1.3 crores and Delhi were just not ready for that," said someone close to the situation on the condition of anonymity.
The deal would have made Anas earn the same as Sunil Chhetri and a tad bit more than his partner in crime at the heart of the Indian defence - Sandesh Jhingan (who has been retained by Kerala Blaster for a deal worth INR 3.8 crores over three years). With Anas at the centre of the pile, Delhi were able to mount two successful campaigns in the last two ISL seasons - progressing to the playoff before being knocked out in the semis on both occasions.
Comparing him to the others who got the big pay day, Jhingan is still only 24 years of age while Jeje Lalpekhlua, who became the highest paid player to be retained has proven time and again of his goalscoring abilities and at 26 is entering the prime of his career. Sunil Chhetri, on the other hand, is one who seems to be ageing like fine wine and in terms of Indian footballers, is a cut above the rest.
The man from Kerala has been a late bloomer and even though his performances have been met with rave reviews, the defender is already 30 and committing to him for three at those prices might have seemed to be a too big a risk for the Dynamos hierarchy. The defender finally settled for a fee of INR 1.1 crores which he will draw as the face of the newly formed ISL side Jamshedpur FC.
Delhi thus ended up retaining none of its former stars and with their first two picks in the first two rounds selected Albino Gomes and Pritam Kotal.