The domestic player auction and draft saw brisk action as the eight franchises tried to outrun each other in the race to sign some of the finest talents in Indian Football at the the moment. The story of the day however was Eugeneson Lyngdoh who was picked up by FC Pune City for a whopping 1.05 crore, significantly higher than his base price of 27.5 Lakhs.
There were as many as five Bengaluru FC players in the the auction and with Bengaluru FC performing well in the last two years, it came as no surprise that franchises were interested in the players of the JSW sponsored club. Bengaluru FC had not released its players for the inaugural season of the Indian Super League but were forced to change their stance following the popularity of the first season. Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri who followed Eugeneson Lyngdoh in the auction was snapped up by Mumbai City FC for 1.2 crore (1.5 times his base price of 80 Lakhs) though after Eugeneson’ s auction, it seemed a bit underwhelming. Rino Anto entered the auction having the lowest base price of 17.5 lakhs but an intense round of bidding between Mumbai City FC, FC Goa and Atletico de Kolkata saw his price swell massively. Anto was finally taken by Atletico de Kolkata for a price of 90 Lakhs, more than five times his base price. The auction was followed by a drafts process and here is a list of which players were brought in by which franchise
Mumbai City FC
The club from the corporate capital of India finished second from bottom and were understandably quite busy in the day as they looked to strengthen their squad in all departments. The club managed to rope in Sunil Chhetri for 1.2 crore when it was expected that his valuation would touch 2 crore or more. Ranbir Kapoor was ecstatic on having signed Chhetri and admitted that they expected the player to be valued much higher. The Indian skipper who scored both against Oman and Guam in the World Cup qualifiers is unarguably the best Indian player at the moment and would add much needed bite to Mumbai City FC’ s attack. The team managed just 12 goals from 14 matches last season and the fans would hope that Chhetri can inspire them to a much better performance this season.
Mumbai City FC also roped in seven players in the draft with the pick among them being 21 old midfielder Brandon Fernandes. The highly rated play maker has had trials in England and showed glimpses of his talent in I League this season when he played a key role in Sporting’ s second half resurgence. Ashutosh Mehta of Mumbai FC has been on radar of several big clubs in I League for the last couple of season and he too will be seen in Mumbai City FC’ s colors. Bengaluru FC duo of Lalchhuanmawia Fanai and Keegan Pereira were also picked up by the club and both of them are likely to compete for the left back slot in the team. Both Mawia and Keegan played key role for Bengaluru this season with Mawia even earning a place in the national team on account of his performances. Debjit Majumder who played a key role under the bar for Mohun Bagan this season will be deputy to Subrata Paul in the team. Midfielder Pratesh Shirodkar and Salgaocar youngster Albino Gomes were the other two players picked up by Mumbai City FC in the draft.
North East United FC
John Abrahim’ side picked up Royal Wahingdoh’ s right winger Seityasen Singh in the auction for a price of 56 Lakhs. It was largely expected that Seityasen Singh who had a base price of 20 Lakhs would attract interest from a lot of franchises and it was indeed the case with several franchises going in for the winger. Seityasen who made his national team debut in the World Cup qualifier against Oman is capable of troubling the opposition defenders with pace and trickery. North East United finished last in the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League and hence were keen on adding to their squad.
The club roped in Bengaluru FC duo of custodian Lalthuammawia Ralte and midfielder Siam Hanghal. Ralte earned several man of the match awards in the I League for his impressive performances and was one of the main reason for Bengaluru’ s impressive performances this season. Siam on other hand was part of the India U 23 team that participated in the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers in March this year. Pune FC left back Raju Yumnam who brings with several years of I League experience was also picked up in the draft while Wahingdoh’ s right back Reegan Singh was also added to the roaster. Marlangki Suting . of Royal Wahingdoh and Zohmingliana Ralte of Shillong Lajong were also included by North East United as they stuck to their plank of picking up players from North-East India.
FC Pune City
If compared to 86 lakhs for Thoi Singh or 56 Lakhs for Seityasen Singh, FC Pune City’ s capture of Jackichand Singh for 45 Lakhs in the auction can be safely called as the bargain buy of the auction. The I League player of the season who troubled the opposition defenders with his pace and trickery is a match winning player and is capable of playing on either of the flanks. Having made his debut in the World Cup qualifiers against Nepal, Jackichand would be looking to add to continue his performances in the Indian Super League as well. FC Pune City however struck gold by signing Eugeneson Lyngdoh, the 28 year old central midfielder who featured in all I League games for Bengaluru this season. Known for his industrious work rate and tireless running, the 28 year old in a dead-ball expert and it came as no surprise when the Hritk Roshan co-owned team decided to break the 1 crore barrier for the Mr. Consistent of Indian Football.
In the draft FC Pune City added six players to the team with prominent among them being Salgaocar left back Gurjinder Kumar, who will look to use this opportunity to regain his place in the national team. Bikash Jairu, signed by East Bengal from Salgaocar for the upcoming season was also roped in by FC Pune City. FC Pune City also becoming the only club to successfully use the Instant Trade card, when they signed Fanai Lalrempuia for 9.2 lakhs from Delhi Dynamos. Other players added to the team were goalkeeper Lalit Thapa and defender duo of Sushant Mathew and Govin Singh.
Atletico de Kolkata
The defending champions roped in Rino Anto for a whopping amount of 90 lakhs, more than 5 times his base price of 17 lakhs. Anto is one of the best right backs in the country and the Bengaluru FC player is known to overlap and provide assists from the right flank. It was infact Anto who provided the assist for Chhetri’ s goal against Guam last month. Also roped by Atletico was the nimble footed Arata Izumi – the Japanese midfielder who gave up Japanese citizenship to play for the Indian national team. Arata has been a standout performer for Pune FC for years and his vision and passing will no doubt be an asset for the Kolkata side. The Saurav Ganguly co-owned side roped in four players in the draft with Pune FC goalkeeper Amrinder Singh and Salgaocar central defender Augustin Fernandes being the notable additions.
The club from the capital city missed out on qualification by a point last season and were quite busy in the day. Pune FC’ s central defender Anas Edathodika was Delhi’ s first pick while Indian striker Robin Singh was the second. Until a couple of seasons back Anas Edathodika was hailed as one of the best central defenders in the country but injuries have slowed down his progress in recent times and it came as no surprise when there was just a solitary bid for him. Delhi boy Robin Singh, who has cemented his place as the second striker in the national team, will also represent the Dynamos. Delhi Dynamos also picked up six players in the draft with Sehnaj Singh being the most important pick. The defensive midfielder broke into the national team after some impressive performances for Mohun Bagan this season and the hardworking midfielder is expected to feature in the starting lineup. Right back Naoba Singh, who played for Dynamos last season was also roped in by the club again, as also was Dempo right back Prabir Das. Goalkeeper Ravi Kumar, midfielders Zodingliana Ralte and Gunashekhar Vignesh were the other players added to the team.
Having chosen not to retain Denson Devdas, Chenaiyin FC roped in Bengaluru FC’ s central midfielder Thoi Singh for 86 Lakhs. Thoi Singh has been one of the most consistent performers for Bengaluru in the last two seasons and has also chipped in with important goals in addition to notching up several assists for the JSW backed side. It came as a huge surprise when Thoi was not included in the national team for the World Cup qualifiers. Chenaiyin also roped in Salgaocar custodian Karanjit Singh for his base price of 60 Lakhs. Despite missing most of the last season due to injury, the Punjabi goalkeeper is one of the most talented custodians in the country and will be gunning to make a mark under the guidance of Marco Materazzi
Dhanpal Ganesh who made his debut against Nepal in the World Cup qualifiers was one of the five players picked up by the Chennai based club. 24 year old central midfielder Dhanpal comes from Tamil Nadu and is expected to cement his place in the national team in years to comes. Central midfielder Zakeer Mundampara and Mumbai FC duo of goalkeeper Nidhin Lal and central defender Justin Stephen come with several years of I League experience and their presence will add solidity and depth in the team. Royal Wahingdoh winger Lalmangaihsanga Ralte was the fifth player to be roped in during the drafts.
Runners up from last season Kerala Blasters made no pick in the auction but added four players in the drafts. Hardworking midfielder and Kerala boy CK Vineeth was roped in by the club as was expected. Vineeth earned praise from Bengaluru’ s coach Ashley Westwood for his performances this season and is no doubt an important capture for Blasters as he can also play as a striker if needed. East Bengal midfielder Cavin Lobo who had a good season with Atletico de Kolkata last year will also been seen in Kerala Blasters colors this season. The attacking midfielder has a lethal long range shot and his presence will add solidity to the Blasters midfield. Trevor Morgan mentored side also added 20 year old Shankar Sampingiraj from Bengaluru FC. The lanky central midfielder really grew in stature as the I League season progressed and cemented his place in Bengaluru midfield. Dempo’ s Peter Carvalho was the fourth player added by Blasters.
Having already secured 11 Indian players for the next season, the club from Goa added only to players to the team – Sporting forward Victorino Fernandes and Pune FC forward Thongkhosiem Haokip. Local lad Victorino is blessed with pace and is a kind of player Zico would like to work with going by how effectively he used Romeo and Mandar last season. Haokip on the other hand had a good season with Pune FC this season and also represented the India U-23 team in AFC U-23 Championships this year.