CHENNAI: News cycles on Friday may have been dominated by the Under-17 World Cup draw, but there was something else going on in Indian football. It was the final chance for Indian Super League outfits to submit their list of retained players for the upcoming season. With the dust finally settled, the choices that teams have made, make for interesting reading.
As Express revealed earlier, goalkeepers have emerged the most valuable commodity, with six of the nine teams choosing to retain a custodian. Amrinder Singh was the big winner with Mumbai City FC spending more than a crore to retain him.
Chennaiyin FC chose to keep Karanjit Singh. Atletico de Kolkata was able to prise Mohun Bagan goalkeeper Debjit Majumder while Goa retained Laxmikant Kattimani. NorthEast United chose TP Rehenesh over Subrata Paul but the biggest surprise was FC Pune City’s move to retain India U-23 keeper Vishal Kaith.
The 20-year-old Himachal keeper did not start a single game for Pune last year, but is thought of as one of the finest goalkeeping prospects to come out of India in recent times.
Forwards were in good demand with bankable Indian goalscorers in short supply. Kerala Blasters took little time in signing up CK Vineeth, once it became clear that Bengaluru FC would not do so. The Blues themselves went for two forwards — Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh, while retaining the highly-rated Daniel Lalhlimpuia as one of their U-23 players. Chennaiyin naturally went with the Chhetri’s national team strike partner Jeje Lalpekhlua.
The most intriguing strategy however came from Delhi Dynamos who decided not to retain anyone despite having the likes of Anas Edathodika, recently adjudged the I-League’s best defender, in their ranks. Delhi will now be one of the two teams — the Tata group being the other — to pick in the first round of the draft. “We considered the permutations and decided not to retain anyone,” sources close to the club said. “We had told our players that we would only enter talks with them after deciding whether to retain anyone. In the end, we chose not to. We wanted to start afresh and wanted to be in the draft from the first round.”