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New coaches, guidelines and Coronavirus: ISL clubs are carefully restructuring their squads

New coaches, guidelines and Coronavirus: ISL clubs are carefully restructuring their squads
New coaches, guidelines and Coronavirus: ISL clubs are carefully restructuring their squads

Last Updated on September 14, 2020 by MyGh.Online

Things have changed in the transfer market for Indian Super League clubs…

Indian Super League (ISL) clubs were notorious for chopping and changing their squad ahead of every new season until a few years ago.

However, as the league evolved and modern ideas crept into the footballing philosophies of clubs and those who run the show, there have been more teams willing to retain the core of their squad and attempt fine-tuning instead of revamps.

For some clubs, it was as if nothing had changed. The likes of Kerala Blasters and ATK continued to not only make wholesale changes to their squads but also to their coaching and non-coaching staff. On the other hand, ISL had FC Goa and Bengaluru FC showing an intent to keep their players for more than a season.

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While arguments can be made for and against teams making changes every season depending on results on the field, the impact and the focus of these changes are mostly on the foreign contingent. 

ISL has been reducing the number of foreign players allowed per team each season, which is ultimately a step in the right direction for the betterment of Indian football. With the teams now only needed to sign a minimum of five foreign players (and a maximum of seven) including an Asian player, they have realized that the whole dynamic of the squad can be effectively changed from 2020-21 onwards. 

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From the 2021-22 season, the number of foreigners allowed in the playing XI will only be four.

Instead of splashing the cash on five high-profile foreign footballers including a marquee player, ISL teams have decided to take a step back and observe the market more keenly to only go for ‘safer’ deals.

Hugo Boumous FC Goa Mumbai City ISL 6

While this was always likely to be the plan even before the teams’ meeting with the league organizers earlier this year, the Coronavirus pandemic has only strengthened their belief that this is the right approach. With finances already stretched, every rupee is worth saving and more valuable. Wasn’t that always the case? Well, some of the transfers from the past clearly indicate that this may not have been the case previously. 

The pandemic, ISL’s change in guidelines and the direction which the All India Football Federation (AIFF) intends to take, in accordance with the regulations of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), has led the Indian clubs towards a process of restructuring their foreign player department, regardless of their in-house philosophy.

FC Goa, with a new manager and after three years of the Sergio Lobera era, have seen the likes of Mourtada Fall, Hugo Boumous, Ahmed Jahouh and Ferran Corominas leave the club. They have a new-look foreign player contingent in for this season.

Mumbai City, meanwhile, have brought in new faces but tried and tested players in Ahmed Jahouh, Mourtada Fall and Hugo Boumous (from FC Goa), Bartholomew Ogbeche (from Kerala Blasters)

As of now, Bengaluru have the likes of DeShorn Brown, Juanan, Erik Paartalu, Dimas Delgado and Raphael Augusto still in their roster. While they are on the lookout for a new striker, they have retained the core of their foreign contingent.

Kerala Blasters, on the other hand, have Sergio Cidoncha in their roster but most of the others are set to be new signings.

The trend is clear. The clubs are pushing towards smart deals that will help them restructure their overseas contingent with value players. It was a combination of several factors that have pushed the clubs into taking such important decisions on recruitment that can ultimately only benefit all stakeholders.

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