ISL Transfers: Kerala Blasters rope in Samuel Lalmuanpuia from Shillong Lajong
The 21-year old midfielder was on loan to Minerva Punjab for their AFC Cup Campaign from the Reds. He will join the Kochi-based franchise on a one year deal with an option to extend the same.
After spending more than six years at the Chandigarh Football Academy where he learned the tricks of the game, Samuel joined Lajong as a youth team player. He played in the Under-19 I-League for Lajong before moving to the senior side paving his way through Shillong Premier League before making his I-League debut against DSK Shivajians in 2016.
He is known for his prolific dribbling skills and excellent command over dead ball situations. His corners and free-kicks can change the course of any game within the blink of an eye.
Lalmuanpuia has played 64 games for Lajong in the national circuit and has scored 13 goals with several assists to his credit. Lalmuanpuia's elegant movement on and off the ball apart from his free-kick brilliance earned him the title of the I-League Emerging Player of the 2017-18 season.
He was also rewarded with the captain’s armband in the previous season and became the second-youngest leader of any I-League side after Amarjit Singh Kiyam of India Arrows.
Lalmuanpuia has been on the radar of several Indian Super League teams and the Kolkata Giants over the years but the youngster has always stayed loyal to the Reds. Lalmuanpuia, however, moved to Minerva Punjab in the previous season for their continental campaign and featured thrice for the Warriors on a mid-season short loan deal.
Lalmuanpuia's contract with Lajong expired on May 31, 2019 after several renewals over the years. He would have most probably preferred to stay at Lajong, if only the Reds stayed alive in the relegation battle last season. But given his stature and talent, it makes sense for him to explore new territories.
Kerala Blasters have experienced options in the midfield in Darren Caldeira, Moustapha, Mario Arques, and Sergio Cidoncha and Lalmuanpuia's inclusion at the center of the park will surely allow Eelco Schattorie more depth on the bench as well as a fresh option to implement as the season progresses.