For heavyweights ATK Mohun Bagan, anything less than a championship-winning season in the Indian Super League is considered a failure. Last season was definitely underwhelming for the Mariners, if not absolutely forgettable. After a rough start to the season under former boss Antonio Lopez Habas, ATKMB acquired the services of Juan Ferrando mid-season.
While the former FC Goa gaffer couldn't lead them to silverware in his debut season, it was evident that something special was brewing in the ATK Mohun Bagan camp. Under the tutelage of the Spanish tactician, the Green and Maroon Brigade started playing a more fluid, possession-based football.
Ferrando's footballing system might come into full bloom this season Complementing their onfield progress, the Mariners have also moved smartly and swiftly in the transfer window.
On that note, let's rank the three new faces who will be donning the ATK Mohun Bagan outfit in the upcoming season.
#3 Asish Rai (full-back)
The Sikkim-born footballer has established himself as one of the finest full-backs in the country. Asish Rai was pivotal to Hyderabad FC's ISL title run in the 2021-22 season. The 23-year-old formed a formidable partnership with Akash Mishra down the flanks.
In Ferrando's system, where the full-backs are utilized to spread the game, Asish can thrive. Having played in a high-intensity system, Rai has developed a certain work ethic that makes him an absolute metronome on the pitch.
He registered four big chances last season, including three assists. The Nizams had the highest number of crosses (363) attempted in the previous season, with Asish Rai bagging 60 of those.
#2 Ashique Kuruniyan (winger)
The 25-year-old established himself as a star with Bengaluru FC over the past three seasons. Ashique Kuruniyan racked up two goals and one assist in 44 matches with the Blues.
The youngster started out as an out-and-out winger for FC Pune City before the club disbanded in 2019. Over the past few seasons at BFC, Ashique has been used as a full-back.
While many have stated that Kuruniyan's offensive potential isn't fully realized when he plays as a full-back, Ferrando's support at ATK Mohun Bagan may enable Kuruniyan to unlock his attacking prowess.
Kuruniyan may benefit greatly from playing higher up the field for Bagan since he will be able to make more darting runs into the box or slip outside and drill a pelting cross.
#1 Florentin Pogba (Center-back)
When the Mariners acquired the services of Florentin Pogba, brother of French World Cup winner Paul, the news garenred a lot of eyeballs. The Guinean international is expected to bring his physicality and ball-playing abilities to the ATKMB backline.
Florentin Pogba had a contract with Sochaux until July 2023, but the defender wanted to discover new challenges and hence transferred to the ISL heavyweights, according to their official statement.
The Guinean international arrived at the French second-tier club in the summer of 2020. He played two seasons for the outfit, making 62 Ligue 2 appearances.
The left-footed centre-back can also be deployed as a defensive midfielder if the side requires stability in midfield.