With Hero ISL season 6 over and ATK bagging their third ISL title, Indian football now heads into the offseason with the summer transfer window opened. Clubs would be heading into the transfer market looking to fortify their squads for both domestic and international challenges that lie ahead next season. With the ISL clubs having the majority representation in AFC competition than I League clubs, It’s bound to light up the Indian transfer market.
While the summer transfer window is the best time for player trading, it is a second chance for players who aren’t playing regularly or need a move to reignite their careers.
We’ve taken a closer look at the cases of eight such players here.
The Mizoram born left-back had signed with ATK in 2018 after impressing for Mohun Bagan in I League. He was one of the silver linings for ATK in ISL season 5 in an otherwise torrid season. He was in the thick of things under previous head coach Steve Coppell, impressing with decent defensive displays. But his fortunes have seemed to tumble over under current head coach Antonio Habas. He could not make a single appearance this season under Habas, which saw them finish as the champions of ISL. With youngster Sumit Rathi cementing his position. It looks highly unlikely for Ricky to break into the first team.
Ricky seems to be on the move with several ISL clubs vying for his signature. Rumours suggest that Jamshedpur FC appears to be the 28-year-olds likely destination. Jamshedpur struggled defensively this season to the extent where Sumit Passi had to fill in the left-back position. So Ricky would be a welcome signing at the furnace.
The Manipur lad is among the most promising defenders in India right now. The 23-year-old Indian international completed a move from Shillong Lajong to FC Goa in 2017. He could only manage 19 appearances for the Guars during this period with FC Goa’s previous manager Sergio Lobera and their current interim head coach Clifford Miranda preferring the dynamic duo of Mourtada Fall and Carlos Pena. Reports suggest Sana Singh is on the move, and Hyderbad FC has acquired the services of the talented youngster and will don the jersey of Albert Roca’s side. But it could be a challenging move with Albert Roca also preferring an international centre back pairing. It will be a fresh challenge for the youngster and will be hoping to prove himself under his new gaffer.
Jobby Justin impressed us all with a brilliant 2018-19 I League season and have knocked on the doors of the national team, with Igor Stimac giving him his début in 2019. With an outstanding showing at East Bengal over a couple of seasons which saw him finish as the top-scoring Indian in I League. ATK stunned the Indian transfer market and paid a whopping 65 Lakhs per season to rope in Justin in 2019.
ATK had a season to remember & lifted the Indian Super League (ISL) trophy for the record 3rd time following a 3-1 win against Chennaiyin FC in the final held at Goa. Even though ATK had a spectacular season. Jobby had a mediocre season with him featuring in 10 games and starting just once with one goal and one assist to show. Still only 26, Jobby needs to play regular football to make good use of his prime years. A move could be on the cards for the Kerala lad this summer with many teams looking for players who can dominate upfront.
Mohamed Ali signed for FC Goa in 2017 and made a decent start to his ISL career, but errors at the back soon saw him lose his place in the starting XI to Carlos Pena. Ever since Ali has been fringe player just making a single substitute appearance this season. Overall Ali has made a total of 24 appearances for the Gaurs over the last three seasons.
Ali had previously helped both Dempo SC and Neroca FC gain promotion to the I League. Goa had notched him up in the Hero ISL draft 2017 on the back of his scintillating displays in the 2nd division but has failed to set the league on fire.
The 27-year-olds contract expires at the end of the season, and its time for the talented defender to make a move for steady playing time since he is in his prime years.
Deependra Singh Negi
Deependra Singh Negi is an AIFF Elite Academy graduate who was a former India U17 national team captain. In 2016 Negi signed a professional contract with Spanish club CF Reus that played in the second division of Spanish football, Segunda Division. On his return, Kerala Blasters offered him a deal in 2017. The 20-year-old made an immediate impact at Blasters two years ago by coming off the bench and scoring a goal on his debut. His impressive displays and intelligence on the ball in the engine room had impressed former coach David James. However, he has only played three matches for the Yellow Army since that heroic substitute appearance. An injury forced him to sit out the entirety of 2018-19 season. By the time a certain Sahal Abdul Samad had cemented a place in the squad.
Negi signed for newly formed Hyderbad FC in 2019 to revive his career but could not make a single appearance for the Nizams.
With age still on his side, the youngster needs more playing time, and a move to the I League might be a good option.
21-year-old striker from Assam has been impressive for Mumbai City FC for the last three years but with limited appearances to the wings. Pranjal, a DSK Shivajians youth product, made his debut in I league for the senior side in 2017. Mumbai City FC signed him up soon. The impressive youngster has a contract with MCFC till 2021. The youngster came into the spotlight when he scored a long-range stunner for MCFC against Blasters to steal a point for the Islanders in 2018. He has made 18 appearances for the ISL side with one goal and an assist. He just featured twice in 2019-20 season
It’s the right time for the youngster to make a move and garner more playing time. A loan to the I League side can give him the platform to prove himself.
Eugene and BFC were a match made in heaven. He had helped BFC to their maiden Federation Cup title in 2015, I League in 2016, and was a crucial figure in their run-up to AFC Cup Final. His exploits saw him bagging I-League Midfielder of the Year 2014-15 and AIFF Player of the Year 2015. He was a mainstay for the national team under Head Coach Stephen Constantine.BFC failed to retain him in 2017 due to ISL regulations, and ATK signed him up from the ISL 2017 draft. But was unable to make an impact due to long injury lay off and fitness issue which also saw him miss out 23 men Indian squad for AFC Asian Cup 2019.
When Lyngdoh returned to BFC in 2019, it was like “The Prodigal Son Has Returned.” But he could not help the former champions to title this season. A lot has changed at BFC since he left.
All Indian football fans want to see the Midfield Maestro back at his best. He needs to move to a club where he can contribute more. At 33, we believe the Shillong born midfielder still has a lot to impart to Indian Football. Reports suggest several ISL clubs and even I League giants East Bengal are interested in acquiring his services.
Salam Ranjan Singh
Salam Ranjan Singh who hails from Manipur made his professional career debut with FC Pune in 2013. He loaned out to Bengaluru FC in the 2015/16 season. The 24-year old made his ISL debut with NorthEast United in 2016 but could only appear in two games for the Highlanders. In 2017, he was part of BFC again and then joined East Bengal. At the Kolkata club, he played 21 games but could not establish himself as a regular starter under Head Coach Alejandro Menéndez.
He signed for ATK in 2019 and could only make four starts for the eventual Champions. The India international is one of the most sought after defenders in Indian football, and he would be wasting his talent at the already star-studded ATK bench. He should make a move to get his career back on track and prove himself to current national team head coach Igor Stimac.