Rumours about contracts and transfers for 2019-20 football season take centre-stage
The IFA has supposedly hauled up Joby, but no clarity has been provided as yet. But it seems, he is likely to join ATK and play for them in the coming season.
Indian football season 2018-19 has officially ended. It’s now time for the clubs to hit reset for the upcoming season. However, with confusion still prevailing on the future roadmap of Indian football, no club is confident enough to commit to new strategies for 2019-20.
While Fifa has stated that a single top football league must be organised instead of multiple ones — now we have both I-League and the Indian Super League — the All India Football Federation (AIFF) is trying to work out an amicable solution for all clubs to be accommodated into a single league.
At this juncture, with no one sure about the future direction of Indian football, it’s indeed challenging for all clubs to commit to buying players of their choice for the upcoming season.
As a result, strategy has taken a backseat. What has taken centre-stage are a plethora of rumours and unsubstantiated news of contracts and transfers for 2019-20. Such rumours help to keep over-enthusiastic supporters engaged in the off season.
It also builds up the much-needed tempo before the first transfer window actually opens up on June 9. Most of the ISL clubs have still not revealed their plans in this uncertain environment. However, the rumour mills are buzzing for some of the major I-League clubs.
Let me start with Quess East Bengal (QEB). A lot has been written about the exit of prolific scorer Jobby Justin to ATK (previously Atlético de Kolkata). However, there still seems to be some confusion about him actually having signed.
The IFA has supposedly hauled up Joby, but no clarity has been provided as yet. But it seems, he is likely to join ATK and play for them in the coming season. This would also open up opportunities for him to make a mark with the national selectors.
With the speculated exodus of Joby, rumours are rife that QEB is supposedly offering a contract to Gokulam Kerala FC striker Suhair VP. But this hasn’t been confirmed by the club management. What has been confirmed is that QEB has extended contracts of coach Alejandro Menendez Garcia, defender Borja Gomez Perez and midfielder Brandon Vanlalremdika.
It is also being rumoured that the club might release its foreign recruits, Costa Rican defender Johnny Acosta, Senegalese midfielder Kassim Aidara and Spanish winger Toni Dovale, while likely to retain Spanish midfielder Jaime Santos Colado.
The coach is supposedly scouting for new talent from Spanish clubs. The club may, however, lose the services of defender Lalramchullova and winger Laldanmawia Ralte, as per the grapevine, though again the club hasn’t confirmed any such news.
The other Kolkata giants Mohun Bagan are in need of a new sponsor and a stronger financial footing to fully jump into the fray. There are, however, sporadic reports of the club talking to some I-League players like Dawda Ceesay of Churchill Brothers, Mason Robertson of Real Kashmir and old warhorse Katsumi Yusa (even though it seems the Japanese midfielder is probably joining Chennai City FC).
The club has also supposedly released its foreign recruits Ugandan striker Henry Kisekka and Saudi defender Omar Al Husseini. While Mohun Bagan’s merger with ATK is still under cloud, the entire picture will change if the merger does go through.
Next in the rumour web is Indian Arrows. It is hearsay that players born in or before 2000 are likely to be released by the club. Among them, some players already have contracts with ISL clubs.
They are likely to be replaced by fresh young talent. It is also being bandied that QEB coach Garcia is very impressed by some of the Indian Arrows players, and a few of them may be signed by the red and gold brigade.
In the eventuality that Minerva and Neroca may shut down their clubs, due to the ongoing strife with the AIFF, the future of players associated with these two clubs is extremely uncertain. They’re likely to be picked up by I-League and ISL outfits.
What the future looks like only time will tell. Amidst all this tittle-tattle, greater clarity will only emerge once the transfer window opens in June. Watch this space.