ISL 2017: 5 signings that will complete the Kerala Blasters lineup for next season

<p>Who else should KBFC sign for ISL-4?</p><p>E
Who else should KBFC sign for ISL-4?

With the Indian Super League domestic draft done, Kerala Blasters have switched their attentions to the overseas market. They sealed the signing of striker Iain Hume earlier today, but new head coach Rene Meulensteen will have quite a few areas to address in his squad.

Not all of Kerala Blasters' draft signings will be starters in the first eleven, with ex-Shillong Lajong head coach Thangboi Singto's arrival as Meulensteen's assistant signalling a change in the club's approach towards youth.

The signing of Subhashish Roy Chowdhury for Rs 37 lakhs has all but settled the goalkeeping department. Since the emphasis this season for ISL clubs has been on signing Indian goalkeepers, Kerala Blasters have got that position sorted with the former East Bengal and ATK shot-stopper.

Going into their defence, the Men in Yellow have got themselves Jhingan, local lad Rino Anto and current I-League champion with Aizawl FC, Lalruatthara. With Jhingan in central defence and Anto and Ruatthara as the main full-backs, Meulensteen will look to recruit at least one high-profile foreign centre-back, and here are the ones he could possibly go for.

Cedric Hengbart

Hengbart
Hengbart

The Frenchman has played in all three seasons of the ISL so far, having been with the Blasters in two of those seasons. The 37-year-old might be on the wane given his age, but Hengbart has shown his dominance in the Indian game in the past.

The lanky defender is currently a free agent after his contract with Maltese club Mosta ended last month and could well be set for another spell at the Kochi-based club.

Hengbart aside, Meulensteen could also look around the world for central defenders, one of which is this former Arsenal man.

Philippe Senderos

Blackburn Rovers v Arsenal - Carling Cup Quarter Final
Senderos during his Arsenal days

Senderos, like Hengbart, is also a free agent after his ill-fated spell at Glasgow Rangers came to an end earlier this month. The former Arsenal man worked with Meulensteen during the coach's brief spell at Fulham. Given his pedigree as a Swiss international, Senderos will be quite a coup as a 32-year-old defender.

That said, Senderos is prone to the occasional lapse in concentration, which was in the spotlight during his Arsenal days and even noticed last season in Scotland with Rangers, who had a terrible season on their return to the Scottish top flight with then manager Mark Warburton carrying the can for the club's struggles and eventually getting sacked.


Going into midfield, Kerala Blasters signed two young Indian midfielders in the draft in the form of Milan Singh and Siam Hanghal. However, Meulensteen has always favoured a five-man midfield during his managerial career, using variants of the 4-2-3-1 formation with setups like 4-1-4-1, 4-4-1-1 and 4-3-3.

Hanghal and Milan have proved to be two of the best Indian midfielders in the ISL in the past, but to put things into context, the best ISL midfielders like Raphael Augusto, Mohamed Sissoko and Borja have had far better numbers than their Indian counterparts. Hence, Meulensteen will target at least one midfielder in the aforementioned foreign trio's mould to shore up the centre of the park and will do well should he go for one of these men.

Marcos Tebar

Tebar
Tebar

The Spaniard played a key role in the Delhi Dynamos midfield last season and is on the lookout for a new club, with the ISL being his top target according to the Spanish press. Tebar is a pass-master and keeps things ticking in midfield, factors which led to Delhi playing arguably the best football in ISL 2016.

The 31-year-old will be an affordable target for ISL clubs, particularly Kerala Blasters, and can slot straight into any eleven given his prior experience of Indian football and the ISL. He was last seen playing for Reus Deportiu in the Spanish second tier.

Stephen Pearson

Pearson
Pearson

The 34-year-old had his first taste of ISL football with Kerala Blasters back in the 2015 season. The Scotland international has since won the ISL title with ATK last year and is currently a free agent after ending his five-month stay at Scottish Premiership side Motherwell ended earlier this month.

Pearson is a box-to-box midfielder who is useful both in attack and defence. If Meulensteen prefers a two-man holding midfield ballast, then he could go with Pearson alongside Hanghal, with Milan further forward. In case the Dutch coach switches to a 4-1-4-1 variant, he could use Milan and Pearson ahead of Hanghal at the base of the defence.

Harmeet Singh

Harmeet Singh
Harmeet Singh

Although not technically a sitting central midfielder, the Norwegian is available on a free this summer and Indian clubs should explore the possibility of signing him, not least Kerala Blasters. The 26-year-old is a long shot given his experience at European clubs like Feyenoord and Molde and will command big wages should he be approached.

Harmeet, however, will be hugely popular among the fanatical Kerala Blasters fan base given his Indian roots.


In attack, the Blasters have got enough ammunition to mount a serious title challenge. With Vineeth and Jackichand alongside the lethal Hume up front, the Yellows can be a formidable force going forward. Karan Sawhney and Arata Izumi should be used as backup options by Meulensteen.

Judging by the look of things, Kerala Blasters need two or three more additions to make their squad genuine title challengers next season.

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Edited by Abhijit Bharali
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