With the transfer window for Indian Super League (ISL) clubs closing on October 20, teams are in the final stages of confirming their player rosters for the upcoming season. While there are some ISL clubs who are sitting comfortably having done all their shopping, some are applying finishing touches to their squad.
Some others haven't officially got off the mark yet. Here, we take a look at what each club requires before the window slams shut.
Current foreign bench: Igor Angulo, Jorge Ortiz Mendoza, Albert Noguera, Edu Bedia, Ivan Gonzalez, James Donachie
'The Gaurs', who finished last season as the ISL table toppers at the end of the league stage of the competition, seem to have ticked all the boxes ahead of the new season with no further additions expected.
While there have been significant departures like Ferran Corominas (most notably), Mourtada Fall, Ahmed Jahouh, Hugo Boumos and Carlos Pena (who has retired), they have bought extensively and replaced them well.
Spanish striker Igor Angulo is expected to replace Coro in the goals department, Jorge Ortiz Mendoza will add steel to the midfield, and they have a tricky attacker in Albert Noguera. In defence, Australian James Donachie will hope to be an impenetrable presence. With a good array of Indian talent to add to the foreign contingent, FC Goa have gone about the transfer window the right way - with swiftness and efficiency.
ATK Mohun Bagan
Current foreign bench: David Williams, Edu Garcia, Carl McHugh, Javi Hernandez, Roy Krishna, Tiri, Bradden Inman.
Like FC Goa, ATK Mohun Bagan too seem ready with all their signings completed. The core of the side, as far as the foreign quota is concerned, will largely be the same, with as many as five of their foreign signings retained from last season.
They include David Williams, Edu Garcia, Carl McHugh, Javi Hernandez and Roy Krishna. Added to the ranks are Bradden Inman from Brisbane Roar in the A-League, and Spanish defender Tiri.
A team finishing its transfer dealings early is indicative of the overall efficiency of the club, and ATK Mohun Bagan sure have given themselves a good chance of defending their ISL crown, with all focus on what they can do on the training ground and pitch now.
Current foreign bench: Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu, Cleiton Silva, Deshorn Brown, Rafael Augusto, Juanan
Regardless of what their transfer dealings have been, Bengaluru FC will always be in the conversation when it comes to who the contenders for the ISL crown are, simply because of the way things happen at the club both on and off the field.
The current situation of the foreign contingent at BFC is as follows - they contractually have five foreigners on their books with space for two more. Former striker Miku was in the conversation for a long time, but after he decided to go ahead and sign with Deportivo La Coruna, coach Carles Cuadrat wants to bring in a quality striker, with Deshorn Brown expected to be the one making way. Defence is an area where Bengaluru ideally need to strengthen, and a signing in that area can also be expected before October 20.
In Cleiton Silva, who is the all-time leading goal scorer in the Thai top division, BFC may have made one of the signings of the summer if he lives up to the expectations.
There were also murmurs about Rafael Augusto leaving the club, but as things stand, he will be donning the BFC jersey come the new ISLseason in November. Watch this space in the coming days for more announcements from the club.
Current foreign bench: Eli Sabia, Enes Sipovic, Memo Moura, Rafael Crivellaro
In what could have been a very tricky transfer window if the club didn't act fast enough after losing head coach Owen Coyle and golden boot winner Nerijus Valskis to Jamshedpur FC, last season's ISL finalists seem to have got the boat stable with a few quality foreign additions to their squad. Bosnina centre-back Enes Sipovic, a solid presence, will be the replacement for Lucian Goian, and Memo Moura has also joined from Jamshedpur FC.
Another defensive addition in Eli Sabia and the retention of Rafael Crivallero means that the foreign contingent looks good up until this point. Now coming to what Chennaiyin need - a proven striker who can replace the goals scored by Valskis last season, among the three other foreigners that they can still sign, one of whom has to be from Asia to fulfil the Asian quota.
On paper, Chennai does have solid players in every position. But which position coach Csaba Laszlo chooses to fill with his remaining foreign quota signings remains to be seen.
Mumbai City FC
At the time of writing this, Mumbai City FC were indulging in some good banter about not having announced any signings yet on their official twitter account ahead of the new ISL season.
Why exactly they chose to keep it a secret till this point is anyone's guess with players such as Bartholomew Ogbeche, Adam Le Fondre, Hugo Boumous, Ahmed Jahouh, and Mourtada Fall said to have signed on the dotted line a long time back. Tottenham Hotspur academy product Cy Goddard is also one of the players that was said to have signed, but with none of these signings official (at least so far), we'll only take the club's word for it when they are announced!
Current foreign bench: Steven Taylor, Marcelinho, Manuel Onwu, Jacob Tratt, Diego Maurício, Diawandou Diagne, Cole Alexander
Odisha FC owner Rohan Sharma has made no secret of his desire to be competing in the upper echelons of the ISL this season, and as far as signings and squad shape are concerned, they seem to be going in the right direction. The addition of former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor has been a notable one, and other players such as Marcelinho, Diego Mauricio, and Australian Jacob Tratt have also been signed, as Odisha inch to complete their foreign quota signings. Most recently, they announced the signing of South African international Cole Alexander.
Midfielder Diawandour Diagne however, might be on his way out of the club and it will be interesting to see who Odisha choose to replace him with.
Kerala Blasters were another club who took a significant hit in terms of losing personnel ahead of the new ISL season. Players such as Bartholomew Ogbeche, Tiri and Sandesh Jhingan all signed with others clubs, and as the days passed, they faced the very real prospect of losing out more key players in the market to other clubs.
However, with the signing of Gary Hooper who has played for clubs such as Celtic and Norwich City in the Premier League, the Blasters have made one of the most high-profile signings of ISL 2020-21. Their Indian players have been signed on long-term contracts, and other foreigners such as Vicente Gomez and Facundo Pereyra have joined their ranks.
What the Blasters now need are two more foreign signings, one of whom has to fulfill the Asian quota. We can expect to hear more from the club on that front before October 20.
Current foreign bench: Nerijus Valskis, Alex Lima, Stephen Eze, Peter Hartley, Aitor Monroy, David Grande
Jamshedpur FC realized that if they were to improve on their eighth place finish from last ISL, they would have to act swiftly and purposefully in the transfer window. They did just that, first by appointing Owen Coyle as head coach, who took Chennaiyin to the final after just joining midway through the season, and golden boot winner from last season Nerijus Valskis.
Both signings signaled intent, and they followed it up with the additions of Peter Hartley from Motherwell, Alex Lima, Nigerian centre-back Stephen Eze and Aitor Monroy. In addition, Jamshedpur have some very talented Indian players like Amarjit Singh Kiyam in their roster as a new ISL season dawns.
All they now need is a signing to fulfill their Asian quota, and once that's done, Jamshedpur will certainly be among the teams to watch out for this ISL.
NorthEast United FC
Current foreign bench: Luis Machado, Federico Gallego, Dylan Fox, Benjamin Lambot, Khassa Camara
Even though NorthEast United FC finished second-last last ISL, they were one of the first teams to confirm most of their foreign signings and squad ahead of the next season. Only minor tweaks now remain, if at all any.
Goal-machine Federico Gallego has been retained by the club, while Portuguese winger Luis Machado, Belgian defender Benjamin Lambot, defensive midfielder Khassa Camara and Australian defender Dylan Fox have been added to the mix.
NorthEast United can also sign another foreign player, and will ideally go for an attacking player to bolster their creativity up top before ISL 2020-21.
Hyderabad FC had a forgettable campaign last ISL, finishing bottom of the table and winning only two matches. Further, they lost head coach Albert Roca right at the beginning of the transfer window, when he left to join Ronald Koeman's coaching staff at Barcelona. However, they seem to have recovered, and at least on paper, look to have made some impressive signings before the upcoming ISL.
They have already added the six foreign signings in the shape of Lluis Sastre, Joel Chianese, Joao Victor, Odei Onaindia, Fran Sandaza and Aridane Santana. Santana scored nine goals in 15 games for Odisha last ISL season, Sandaza is an experienced Spanish striker, and Joel Chianese can play anywhere across the front three attacking positions.
It now remains to be seen if the club will add another foreign signing or retain Nestor Gordillo from last ISL - both still a possibility.
SC East Bengal
A late entrant to the ISL after finding an investor belatedly, SC East Bengal face the tough task of ascertaining how exactly they want to go about deciding the composure of their team. Most importantly, it was recently confirmed that Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler will be the head coach, along with Indian legend Renedy Singh as the Indian assistant coach.
Fowler also brings with him his own coaching staff, and that is a step in the right direction as they have the foundation ready. At the time of writing, the following two signings were reportedly going to join the newly-minted ISL club.
With Fowler at the helm, it will be interesting to see which other players join the ISL club in the days to come.Published 11 Oct 2020, 12:31 IST