East Bengal FC - the giants in Kolkata football, ended their 12-year-long national trophy drought in January by lifting the Kalinga Super Cup. Despite this triumph, the Red and Gold Brigade struggled to replicate their cup form in the Indian Super League (ISL), missing out on a playoff spot for the fourth consecutive season.

In the upcoming season, they are determined to reach new heights - not only to achieve good results in the league but also to perform well in Asian competitions where they will be representing the country after nine years.

The club have been proactive in the off-season, leaving no stone unturned to build a formidable squad. They have retained three key foreign players, including their Kalinga Super Cup hero Cleiton Silva, and have already signed Durand Cup top scorer David Lalhlansanga and ISL top scorer Dimitrios Diamantakos.

On Thursday, East Bengal FC made another significant addition by signing ISL’s top assist provider from last season, Madih Talal, on a two-year deal. The Frenchman is a perfect fit for Carles Cuadrat's system, with his age, versatility, athleticism, and mentality aligning with the team's needs. Here, we analyse how Talal's inclusion could elevate East Bengal FC's attacking prowess.

Versatility and Vision: Talal’s Role in Cuadrat’s System

Talal excels in passing, speed, dribbling, and chance creation and is also strong in set pieces. Additionally, his relentless pressing and work rate on and off the ball make him a valuable asset for Cuadrat.

His versatility is a significant advantage. Although his primary role is as an attacking midfielder, he is adept at playing as a false nine or in central midfield. His primary objective will be to unlock defences with his exceptional passing range and provide service to Dimitrios Diamantakos and Cleiton Silva.

Also Read: Carles Cuadrat is the biggest reason why I joined East Bengal FC, says Madih Talal

Talal fills the void of a true attacking midfielder that East Bengal FC have been searching for since joining the ISL. Previous players in the No. 10 role failed to meet expectations. There aren’t many out there, but Talal certainly fits the bill. 

Can Talal be the catalyst for a new dawn at East Bengal FC?

The Frenchman made a strong impression in what essentially was his debut season in India. He proved adept both as a goal-scoring threat and a creator for Punjab FC, contributing to 16 goal involvements in the ISL. Talal's ten assists marked a milestone, making him the first player since Greg Stewart in 2021-22 to achieve double-digit assists in a single season.

Additionally, he led the league in dribbles completed last season with 42. He earned the most number of fouls (71), showcasing his disruptive effect on opposing defences. Talal also ranked third in chances created (57) in the league, trailing only Brandon Fernandes and Dimitrios Petratos.

Carles Cuadrat’s dynamic formation benefits greatly from players like Talal, who quickly adapt and excel. His performances for Punjab FC underscored his potential and hinted at even greater contributions to come.

His final game for Punjab FC in the league stunned everyone at East Bengal FC. Talal scored one goal and assisted two others as the Shers - led by the Frenchman, dashed East Bengal FC’s playoff hopes. That day, Talal might have broken the hearts of the Red and Gold Brigade, but they could surely see new rays of hope around him for at least the next two seasons.