FC Pune City have never found it easy in the Indian Super League. They finished sixth in the inaugural season in 2014 and ended up last but one (seventh) in the 2015 season. The stats get worse when the two seasons are combined together as they are joint second along with North East United FC for the lowest number of goals scored and are only behind Mumbai City FC for the leakiest defence in the tournament.
With a mountain of problems in both attack and defence, they need quality players, and in abundance. We take a look at five players who can steer the team to staedy waters:
1. Ronaldinho (MID, Brazil)
Yes, it's a longshot! But, if at all the transfer takes place, Indian football will reach a whole new level. What can you say about the smiling assassin from Porto Alegre. The ultimate showstopper, Ronaldinho has won it all. Be it the Ballon d’Or or the World Cup or the Champions League; He has “been there, done that”.
One of the very first players to get a standing ovation from the away fans, Ronaldinho is one of the greatest dribblers across all generations. His ability to whiz past defenders is beyond comparison. An ultimate trickster, Ronaldinho is known to toy around with defenders on a regular basis.
With over 500 games for club and country, Dinho has a tremendous amount of experience and will pass that on to the youngsters. With the Pune midfield lacking in creativity, the Brazilian legend will be ideal for the club. With Ronaldinho by their side, nothing would stop Pune from winning the championships.
2. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK, India)
One of the few blessed Indian players to have had a chance to play in Europe, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is a wonderful talent. Instead of warming the bench for Stabaek Fotball (his current club), he can get loaned out to FC Pune City for a couple of months to solve their goalkeeping issues.
Standing roughly at 1.94 metres (6ft 4 inches), Sandhu is not the tallest keeper in the world. However, his athleticism makes up for his height. Blessed with sensational reflexes, Gurpreet can save shots from short range all day long and his positioning skills are top notch as well.
With the defenders being Indian, communication will not be a worry and he can gel together seamlessly. With international experience and European game time, Sandhu can well and truly become India’s best footballer.
3. Dimitar Berbatov (FWD, Bulgaria)
The tall Bulgarian striker was a powerhouse in football during his peak. After joining English giants Manchester United, he won a slew of trophies and created a formidable partnership with current club captain, Wayne Rooney. His most memorable Premier League moment was scoring five goals in a 7-1 win over strugglers Backburn Rovers, a record which will stand the test of time.
Currently a free agent, Berbatov must be on the minds of all the ISL teams. Although he lacks in pace, his shooting skills more than make up for it. He is a tremendous header of the ball and makes full use of his height. Blessed with good passing abilities, Berbatov still has a few tricks up his sleeves.
With an impressive resume’, Berbatov will be one of the favourites to be picked this season.
4. Diego Milito (FWD, Argentina)
Arguably the most underrated striker in football history, 37-year-old Diego Milito has ended his wonderful career just a few weeks back with local team Racing Club. He would be a perfect fit for the Maharashtra club. Struggling on goals, FC Pune City are desperate for a quality striker and Milito maybe the one to answer their prayers.
Having played 515 games for various clubs in 2 continents, he has found the back of the net an impressive 224 times. An ideal number ten, Milito has great shooting skills and with good passing, dribbling and crossing skills in his repertoire, Milito is the complete package.
With previous Pune City strikers like Tuncay Volkan and David Trezeguet making a minimal impact, the Argentina veteran maybe their man to guide them to the top.
5. Keegan Pereira (LB, India)
The Bengaluru FC full-back played 8 games for the Karnataka club in the 2015-16 I-League season. He was impressive and linked well with the center back, John Johnson. An attack-minded player, Periera loves going forward and is known to whip up some delicious crosses into the box.
With decent dribbling skills, he wins the one-on-one battle with the opposition players regularly. Doing his defensive duties religiously, Keegan Pereira is an all-round player. Also having some experience with the national team (only the one game till date), Pereira has established himself as one of the country’s leading full back’s.
With him by their side, FC Pune City will be a major threat in the competition.