Although the 2014/15 season is a fair few months away from getting started, the I-League clubs are already busy preparing for the upcoming campaign. The club officials are looking to rope in players, who they feel can make a big difference to their side this term. It’s always an interesting time for the Indian football fans as they keenly look forward to the changing dynamics of their favorite I-League team. Here is a look at the biggest transfers of the season so far.
Ranti Martins – United Sports Club to East Bengal
East Bengal have definitely concluded the transfer of the season by roping in prolific goalscorer Ranti Martins on a two-year deal from fellow Kolkata club United Sports. The Nigerian striker is expected to fill the void left by the departure of his compatriot Chidi Edeh. Ranty is undoubtedly one of the greatest foreign players to ply his trade in India and East Bengal supporters can look forward to some dazzling performances by the 27-year-old in front of goal. At East Bengal, he will be reunited with his former manager Armando Colaco, under whom he won five I-Leagues and NFL titles combined during his spell at Dempo. It now remains to be seen whether the Ranty-Colaco partnership bears the same fruit in Kolkata.
Odafa Okolie – Mohun Bagan to Churchill Brothers
It did not come as a surprise when Mohun Bagan decided to end their three-year association with Odafa Okolie at the end of the 2013/14 season. The highest-paid footballer in India endured three trophy-less campaigns in Kolkata and his form was also going downhill. Odafa missed the majority of last season due to a string of injuries and his displays in front of goal were woeful to say the least. He rejoined Churchill Brothers, a club where he spent six memorable seasons between 2005 and 2011, before deciding to move to the Green and Maroon. It will be interesting to see how the goal-poacher fares at his former stomping ground, where he first received recognition in India.
Douhou Pierre -Pune FC to Salgaocar
The Ivorian midfielder was an asset for Pune FC since joining the club from Mahindra United in 2009. The 26-year-old is at ease going forward and is equally impressive while helping his side’s defence. Current Salgaocar coach Derrick Pereira first signed Pierre during his managerial stint at Mahindra and the player later followed Pereira to Pune FC. Pereira is aware of the qualities of the wily midfielder and he feels that Pierre’s experience will help Salgaocar to mount a serious challenge for the I-League title next term.
Dhanachandra Singh – United Sports Club to Mohun Bagan
The speedy full-back was a sought after player after his impressive outings for United Sports in the recently concluded season. The Manipuri lad is a menace while running down the flanks and is also a stalwart is defence. East Bengal were interested in roping in Dhanachandra, but their arch-rivals Mohun Bagan piped them to acquire the services of the 27-year-old. The former Air India and Mumbai FC player is expected to provide solidity and stability to Mohun Bagan’s defence, which has been a problematic area for the Kolkata giants over the years.
Deepak Mondal -United Sports Club to East Bengal
A lot of East Bengal fans were surprised after their side decide to sign veteran right-back Deepak Mondal from United Sports. Firstly, because of his age and secondly, the Red and Gold already have Naoba Singh and Abhishek Das fighting it out for the right-back slot. However, despite being 34 years old, Deepak Mondal is still a live-wire on the field as he still manages to run up and down the right flank with considerable ease throughout the course of a match and his experience as a defender is unparalleled. In addition, Mondal has knack of scoring goals when his side need it the most. The full-back, who has the experience of winning the league title with East Bengal, is back at his beloved club after a gap of nine years, and Das and Naoba now have their task cut out to be the club’s number one right-back in the coming season.
Lalkamal Bhowmick -United Sports Club to Mohun Bagan
The once-highest-paid-Bengali-footballer is a welcome addition to the Mohun Bagan squad. The midfielder is good on the ball and is an excellent distributor, the traits the Green and Maroon have missed for the past few seasons. Bhowmick, who is known for his long-rangers, is back at Mohun Bagan after spending four successful seasons with their local rivals United Sports. The 27-year-old is most dangerous when deployed as a roaming midfielder as he has the ability to feed the strikers as well as possesses the skill to find the back of the net on his own.
Mohammed Rafique – United Sports Club to East Bengal
The midfielder, who can also operate as a secondary striker was signed by East Bengal after the club decided to let go of Seminlen Doungel. The move came as a surprise to many as Rafique was not in good form for United Sports in the 2013/14 season. On the other hand, Doungel, who joined Shillong Lajong, put in impressive performances for the Red and Gold last term. Rafique, 21, is not expected to start most of the matches in the upcoming season as East Bengal already have Cavin Lobo and Joaquim Abranches, who can play as secondary strikers. But the youngster has to make a mark when given a chance by coach Armando Colaco to prove that signing him in place of Doungel was not a mistake by the club officials.