With the return of Bundesliga sparking the hope of experiencing live football all over the world soon, we turn our eyes back to Indian football as the clubs continue working towards building their squad for the 2020-21 season.
The pandemic is bound to produce operational challenges and budget-cuts in the transfer market. Most clubs will face an additional challenge of replacing a crucial player, with some big names set to depart from the club they became a vital part of.
Sandesh Jhingan , an integral entity of Kerala Blasters, is set to part ways after spending six years with the club. The centre-back stayed with the club since their inception, featuring in two ISL finals (2014, 2016).
With 76 caps for the Blasters, the 26-year-old will be creating a huge void in defence. A fan favourite, Jhingan was unfortunate not to experience a fairy-tale final season with the club due to a season-long injury that prevented him from featuring in the 2019-20 season.
Although Kerala have now experienced one full season without him, the absence of a mammoth figure in central defence will beg for some astute scouting.
Elsewhere, Nishu Kumar is set to leave Bengaluru FC after five glorious years with the Blues. The 22-year-old joined the club in 2015 as a young prospect and will leave as one of the best left-backs in the country. During his time with Bengaluru, Nishu won the Indian Super League (ISL) title once, made the final twice and the play-offs thrice.
The full-back was one of Bengaluru’s best players last season and his departure to Kerala will pose the 2018-19 champions with a challenging puzzle to solve ahead of the new season.
The Men of Steel will also be diving deep into the market in an attempt to replace Tiri , who is currently considering his options. The Spaniard who won the ISL title with ATK in 2016 joined Jamshedpur FC ahead of the 2017-18 season and was part of the core of the club in the last three years.
The central defender featured in all 36 of Jamshedpur’s games in his first two seasons at the club. An injury caused him to be sidelined for six games last season but a fit Tiri was always among the first names on the team-sheet for the Men of Steel during his time there.
FC Goa were recently tasked to replace head coach Sergio Lobera after the Spaniard led them to a final (2018-19), won the Super Cup (2019) and almost placed the ISL shield (2019-20) on the platter. With captain Mandar Rao Dessai set to join his former boss at Mumbai City FC, the Gaurs bid adieu to a player who has been with them since the start too.
The Goan's departure is bound to leave behind a feeling of emptiness with the fans who take pride in the local talent.
The ISL League winners will also have to deal with the departure of centre-back Carlos Pena who recently announced his retirement from professional football.
The summer of departures is underway and the season could belong to the club that executes good scouting at the mentioned positions.