4 Blockbuster ISL Transfers You Might Have Missed Last Week
With the Durand Cup and the 2023-24 Indian Super League season closing in, the ISL clubs have stepped up their transfer business and announced a few major signings in the last week.
While Jamshedpur appointed former Philippines head coach Scott Cooper as the new head coach of the club, Chennaiyin welcomed former head coach Owen Coyle who was at the club in the 2019-20 season and later won the ISL League Winners’ Shield with Jamshedpur as well in the next season.
In terms of player incomings, Mumbai City signed Dutch midfielder Yoell van Nieff while Hyderabad introduced some Costa Rican flavor into the league by signing Jonathan Moya. Two-time ISL champions Chennaiyin roped in former Kerala Blasters and Jamshedpur striker Jordan Murray to lead the line for the Marina Machans in the 2023-24 ISL season. Let’s check out the top four signings made by the ISL clubs in the last week:
#4 Goa lands former Hyderabad defender Odei Onaindia
The Gaurs have roped in a new defender to partner Sandesh Jhingan in the heart of defense as the former Hyderabad defender has penned a one-year contract to play his third season in the ISL.
The 33-year old defender talked about Goa’s consistency in the league and his relationships with the players who have previously turned out for Goa.
“I’m thrilled about my opportunity with FC Goa. Having played against them for two seasons now, I’m aware that the team has always been competitive and tough to face. I strongly feel that we’ll have a good season this time.”
“Over the years, I’ve had a few friends who have played for Goa, and all of them have only spoken very well of the club and the place. The fact that Coach Manolo and his staff are here as well also helped me in making up my mind. I cannot wait to join up with my new teammates in training, and make the fans of this great club proud.”
Despite being the heart of the Hyderabad defense in their peak seasons, the former Nizams defender still lacks the ISL trophy in his cabinet as he missed out on the triumph in the 2021-22 ISL season as he returned to Mirandes for a single season. With more than 3700 minutes in the ISL under his belt, the Spaniard is well-versed in the league and would be a perfect addition to the Gaurs’ squad.
The club’s director of football, Ravi Puskur welcomed Onaindia to the club and also discussed the potential partnership with Jhingan to play at the Fatorda Stadium in front of the Goa faithful.
“Odei has undoubtedly been one of the standout central defenders in the ISL over the past couple of seasons. As a highly skilled operator and an understated leader, he possesses the ability to marshal the backline with great finesse.”
“Odei’s tactical nous and exceptional reading of the game make him a valuable addition to our team. His presence will undoubtedly help us create a strong defensive unit. His potential partnership with Sandesh holds a lot of promise for our future success as we aim to build a strong defensive unit to compete for top honours this season.”
#3 East Bengal signs Prabsukhan Gill from Kerala Blasters
East Bengal has been rebuilding after a disastrous first few seasons in the ISL and new head coach Carles Cuadrat has been leading the recruitment with several players with ISL experience like Saul Crespo, Nishu Kumar, Harmanjot Khabra, Javi Siviero, Nandhakumar Sekar, Mandar Rao Dessai, and Borja Herrera.
The Reds and Golds have further bolstered their squad with the acquisition of defensive duo Prabsukhan GIll and Gursimrat Singh Gill. The goalkeeper has signed a three-year contract with the Kolkata-based club and will be a considerable upgrade to the club’s existing players in the position.
Gill is delighted to sign for the centenary club and promised to give his best for the club and the fans.
The shot-stopper said,
“I take huge honour in representing this century-old club. I am blessed to be given an opportunity to wear this iconic jersey. I’ll give my best for the fans every time I take the field. There’s no better motivation than playing for these fans.”
After coming through the Chandigarh Football Academy, Gill was called up for the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup and served as a backup goalkeeper in the squad. After making his debut with Bengaluru, Gill switched to southern rivals Kerala Blasters and an unfortunate injury to Albino Gomes paved his way to the first team.
The youngster hasn’t looked back since cementing his name as one of the best goalkeepers of the league keeping a total of 11 clean sheets in 39 league appearances for the Blasters, winning the Golden Glove in the 2021-22 season and would be looking to add to those numbers with East Bengal.
#2 Pritam Kotal switches to Kerala Blasters
After representing and captaining the Mariners, Pritam Kotal moves out of his home state for the first time since 2018 as the right-back will look to replace the outgoing duo of Nishu Kumar and Harmanjot Khabra.
While penning a three-year deal with the club, the defender with more than 50 appearances for the Indian national football team promised to give it his all for the Yellow Tuskers.
“I am delighted to join Kerala Blasters FC and embark on this new chapter of my career. The club’s rich history and passionate fanbase make it an exciting opportunity for me. I am eager to contribute my skills and leadership to the team and work towards achieving our collective goals.”
The right-back continued,
“I am grateful for the trust placed in me by Kerala Blasters FC, and I promise to give my absolute best on the field. Together with my new teammates, I am confident that we will create memorable moments and bring success to the club. I am eagerly looking forward to wearing the Kerala Blasters jersey and making our fans proud. Let’s go, Blasters!”
Kotal’s first spell with Mohun Bagan started back in 2013 and made 61 appearances in all competitions for the Kolkata-based club winning the I-League and the Federation Cup before sealing a permanent transfer to Delhi Dynamos.
Then, ATK signed the right-back and the club was dissolved soon due to a merger between the three-time ISL champions and Mohun Bagan leading to Kotal donning the Green and Maroon colors yet again. The defender lifted the ISL trophy in the 2019-20 season with ATK and once again with Mohun Bagan SG in the 2022-23 ISL season.
Kerala Blasters Sporting Director Karolis Skinkys was full of praise for the club’s latest acquisition and the experience he would add to a relatively young squad.
The Lithuanian said,
“Pritam is a player with a tremendous work ethic and winning mentality. It is very rare to see players like Pritam who, despite having enjoyed the kind of success that he has enjoyed over the years, still want to reinvent themselves, get better, and maintain their standard of play.”
“He brings a wealth of experience and leadership to our squad. There is no doubt that he is one of the finest players in Indian football. I am elated to have Pritam in our squad and expect nothing but great things from him this upcoming season.”
#1 Mohun Bagan Super Giant signs Sahal Abdul Samad
Mohun Bagan Super Giant signed a few important players in this summer transfer window in the form of Anwar Ali, Jason Cummings, Armando Sadiku, and Anirudh Thapa but the Mariners finally broke their bank to land the signature of highly-rated Sahal Abdul Samad.
The reigning ISL champions are investing heavily in squad depth this season, especially in midfield and attack to ensure that the side is not short on goals during the busy part of the league season.
Multiple ISL clubs were after the signature of the attacking midfielder who can play multiple roles in attack but Juan Ferrando’s assurance to play him in his favored No.10 role helped the Mariners in roping in the 26-year old. Sahal has penned a five-year deal with the Mumbai-based club keeping him in the city of joy till May 2028.
While putting pen to paper, Sahal talked about the ambitions of the club to compete with the best clubs in Asian football and opened up about his ideology as well.
“I’m filled with pride at the thought of wearing the Mohun Bagan Super Giant jersey. When Mohun Bagan’s management contacted me, they told me about plans of becoming India’s best team and competing with the best in Asia. I want to align myself with this mentality of the club.”
Playing in the Kolkata Derby in front of a packed crowd at the VYBK Stadium is a dream of every kid playing football in India and Sahal has echoed similar sentiments ahead of a potential Group A fixture against East Bengal in the 2023 Durand Cup.
“The prospect of playing in the derby, wearing the Green and Maroon jersey, fills me with immense excitement. The stands will be packed with supporters passionately cheering for our team. I hope to receive a lot of love from the Mohun Bagan fanbase too. I’ll play to the best of my ability for the fans and the club’s success.”
After making his debut at the end of a tumultuous 2017-18 ISL season for the Kerala Blasters, Sahal enjoyed a breakthrough season in the 2018-19 season as the attacking midfielder clocked more than 1200 minutes on the pitch and was the chief playmaker of the side. Over the years, he has scored 10 goals and provided 8 assists, a modest return that the playmaker would certainly look to improve upon in a fluid attacking side in Kolkata.
The attacking midfielder also talked about legendary players from Kerala who earned the love of the Kolkata supporters whilst playing for a Kolkata-based club
“Renowned players from Kerala, such as IM Vijayan and Jo Paul Ancheri, gained recognition by playing for Kolkata clubs, and many others have also represented them. I will speak with them before travelling to Kolkata, seeking their suggestions and blessings. They are still regarded as icons in Kolkata. Similarly, I aspire to win the hearts of the supporters, just as they did..”
While Mohun Bagan SG has gained a gem, it is a huge loss for Kerala Blasters and the Tuskers would be looking ahead to signing a replacement attacking midfielder before the start of the season.
Juan Ferrando was all praise for their latest acquisition and praised the work rate and abilities of Samad.The head coach said,
“Sahal is a great addition to the team. He will bring more power to our attack. Everyone knows about his qualities but most importantly, he is someone who has grown with every passing season. On top of that, he is a hard worker on the field and gives his 100% throughout the 90 minutes.”