3 players East Bengal FC should attempt to sign ahead of ISL 2024-25 season

East Bengal finished ninth in the ISL 2023-24 league standings.
East Bengal finished ninth in the ISL 2023-24 league standings. (PC: EBFC Media)

Finishing ninth in the ISL 2023-24 league standings, East Bengal FC couldn't match up to the expectations they had garnered after the appointment of Carles Cuadrat. But the unexpected Super Cup victory saved their blushes and paved their way for reentry into continental football.

But success in the Indian Super League is what the supporters have been yearning for long, and if the Torchbearers are to establish themselves as title challengers, making smart moves in the transfer market is the only way forward.

If reports are to be believed, the Kolkata giants have already acquired the signatures of players like Madih Talal, Mark Zothanpuia, David Lalhlansanga, Debjit Majumder, and Provat Lakra. They are also in hot pursuit of the signature of Dimitrios Diamantakos and have expressed interest in acquiring the services of Mumbai City's darling Apuia Ralte.

But their performances in the last season highlight plenty of other areas that still need reinforcement ahead of the ISL 2024-25 season.

#1 Rahul Bheke (Right-back)

In just the ISL 2023-24 alone, Carles Cuadrat experimented with six right-back choices over the season, including Nishu Kumar, Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Jose Antonio Pardo, and Mandar Rao Desai. Hence, the Torchbearers would be eager to stabilize the team on that front.

Recruiting a veteran option of Rahul Bheke's stature might provide an immediate solution to their struggles. The 33-year-old is an astute defender, an absolute leader, and an elite competitor on and off the pitch.

Bheke has the experience and understanding of what it means to don the Red and Gold colors. More recently, the full-back led Mumbai City to the ISL Cup and was heavily praised by head coach Petr Kratky for his impact within the dressing room.

For long, East Bengal have lacked a leader and Bheke could eventually become the answer to their long-awaited prayers.

#2 Vibin Mohanan (Central midfielder)

East Bengal's pursuit of Apuia has made everyone sit up and take notice, though the likelihood remains slim. Should they falter in securing his signature, Vibin Mohanan emerges as an enticing alternative.

The 21-year-old has been a linchpin for Kerala Blasters, orchestrating the midfield alongside Freddy Lallawmawma. With an impressive 86 percent pass accuracy, Vibin's prowess in possession could address East Bengal's midfield deficiencies.

However, prying him from his hometown presents a formidable challenge. Nonetheless, East Bengal have already shown some previously lacking ambition in the transfer market by approaching top talents.

#3 Connor Chapman (Defensive midfielder)

One highly-overlooked contender for East Bengal's performer of the season was Jose Antonio Pardo. The Spaniard came in with minimal expectations rested on his shoulders, however, his versatility often plugged plenty of chinks in the club's armor.

But he turned 36 in April, and his age has considerably cut his athleticism short. Connor Chapman could be an interesting and slightly more explosive replacement for Pardo. The 29-year-old Australian international plays in the A-League for Melbourne Victory, however, his contract ends in June. He made 25 appearances in the league stage, including 15 starts, and came away with a goal and an assist.

Chapman can not only slot in as a defensive midfielder but also as a center-back and even right-back. He could be a smart pick for the Kolkata giants.

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