Ashique Kuruniyan set to help Bengaluru's title defence

Bengaluru FC have confirmed the addition of talented forward Ashique Kuruniyan to their squad heading into Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20. The former FC Pune City man has put pen to paper on a long-term four-year deal with the defending champions.

Born in Malappuram, Kerala, Kuruniyan's journey towards becoming a professional footballer took root when he was selected by the Kerala Football Association's Vision India scheme. After a brief time with the academy, the speedster joined the Pune academy to further his development. He was signed up on loan by Villarreal C, the third team of La Liga side Villarreal, in 2016. However, an unfortunate hamstring injury forced him to return to Pune after training for four months with the Spanish outfit.

Undeterred, the youngster regained his fitness and was included in FC Pune City's senior team for Hero ISL 2017-18. Since making his debut for the Stallions, Kuruniyan has been one of the rising stars in Indian football, raking in three goals and four assists in 26 matches. He has also been part of the national team periodically over the last two years and earned high praise for his performances in the Blue Tigers' AFC Asian Cup 2019 run back in January. His hold up play was particularly impressive during the continental showpiece and helped unleash the best of Sunil Chhetri - something Bengaluru fans will hope he can replicate for his club side in the coming season.

Still just 22, Kuruniyan has a lot of room to grow and will provide Bengaluru head coach Carles Cuadrat with a solid impactful option in attack to help out with the team's title defence in Hero ISL 2019-20.

The player, in an interview with the Bengaluru FC website, described the move as a 'dream come true' and said, "I am really glad to have committed my future to a club like Bengaluru FC. Every young footballer in the country wants to play for Bengaluru and I am happy to be able to realise this dream. I have a lot to learn from the senior players at the club, as well as the coaching staff and while I know that there is massive competition for places, I am confident and ready for the challenge."

Bengaluru head coach Cuadrat also lauded the signing and stated, "Ashique is the kind of player who can help us in both, attack and defence. His talent, pace and guile give us the right kind of selection problems, but more importantly, gives us options. We’re playing the AFC Cup this season and it’s important that we add Indian talent to the squad for the continental campaign. We’re looking forward to have him join the club."

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