The Indian football transfer season got underway as a host of Indian Super League clubs announced high-profile departures and arrivals on Monday.
The transfer window for Indian football officially opens on June 9 but teams have already started work on securing players that are out of contract.
The biggest move on Monday was that of Mumbai City FC captain and goalkeeper Amrinder Singh who joined rivals ATK Mohun Bagan after five years at the club. He led the team to the League Winners’ Shield and the ISL title last season.
The 27-year-old, who is currently in Doha as part of the national team for the upcoming World Cup qualifying round matches, was with the then ATK on loan in 2015-16 season, featuring in 13 matches.
“Even though I played in Kolkata before, it was for a very short time. This joining, of course, is going to be a new chapter in my football career,” Amrinder, who has turned out for India in six matches, said.
“Winning all the trophies for Mumbai last year was a memorable event in my life. I want the same success in the Green-Maroon jersey next season.”
He joined the Mumbai club in 2016 initially on loan from Bengaluru FC and made his debut against FC Goa later that year. He penned a three-year extension with the club in March 2018.
On January 4, 2020, Amrinder became the most capped Mumbai City FC player when he led the Islanders against ATK MB, bettering the earlier record of Lucian Goian.
Amrinder made 84 appearances for Mumbai City FC with the last match being the 2020-21 ISL final against ATK Mohun Bagan.
Explaining why he joined ATK Mohun Bagan, Amrinder said, “I played for a while in ISL-2 under the coaching of Habas. Everyone knows about his success in ISL.
“Habas’ football philosophy always draws me. The biggest thing is that he brought out the best game from the Indian footballers. It’s great to be a member of this team.
“The support of a huge number of ATK MB supporters, the football philosophy of the principal owner of the team and the glorious history of football of this city (Kolkata) are the reasons.”
Bidyananda Singh also left Mumbai City FC and is reportedly set to follow Amrinder to ATK Mohun Bagan.
Bheke, Dimas lead Bengaluru departures
Defender Rahul Bheke who scored the winner for Bengaluru FC in the 2019 ISL final will leave the club after four fruitful seasons at the Kanteerava stadium. Also on the way out are midfielder Dimas Delgado and Harmanjot Khabra who played key roles in that triumph.
Dimas joined Bengaluru FC in 2017 and was a key figure of the midfield making 67 appearances for the club. Captain Sunil Chhetri paid tribute to the Spaniard who he hailed as one of the leaders in the team.
“Today, I lose a key member of the Old Men’s Union and I will hold that against you. But importantly, I’m saying goodbye to a top professional and person who helped me steer the ship on the pitch in so many ways. Will always be in touch,” Chhetri wrote on his Twitter handle.
Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu also hailed the Spaniard’s influence on the team.
“Dimas Delgado was someone who was my constant source of confidence as I tried to adapt to playing out from the back. He’d always tell me - ‘I’m there for you as an option. Pass to me and I will take care of the rest’. And he always did. Thank you an go well, Señor,” he wrote.
The club and its members also paid glowing tributes to Bheke and Khabra who like Delgado joined the club in 2017. Forward Semboi Haokip was another player to exit Bengaluru FC on Monday.
Bengaluru FC failed to qualify for the ISL playoffs for the first time since joining the competition in 2017 and the club seems to be moving in a new direction under new coach Marco Pezzaiuoli. It will be interesting to see who Bengaluru FC bring in to fill the void left by these players ahead of the new season.
Here are some more reactions to Dimas, Bheke and Khabra’s departures:
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