Heroes to rivals! High-profile switches to watch out for in Hero ISL 2019-20
With the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 season fast approaching, most of the teams have more or less zeroed in on their respective squads. This season's transfer window was an eventful one and saw a host of big names switch teams, redefining the landscape and possibly the power structure of the Hero ISL.
In global football, big moves like these often tend to add fuel to existing rivalries and even create new ones. Expanding further, we take a look at some of the most high-profile Hero ISL players who made the switch to a rival team for the upcoming season.
Raphael Augusto – Chennaiyin FC to Bengaluru FC
The reaction to the Brazilian’s move from Chennaiyin to reigning Hero ISL champions Bengaluru earlier in the summer was a glaring testament to the sheer magnitude of the switch. Considered as a talisman by Chennaiyin fans for over four seasons, Augusto joining their bitter regional rivals across the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border not only created ripples among the two teams' fanbases but the entire Hero ISL fandom. Since joining Chennaiyin in 2015, Augusto displayed unparalleled flair and quality on the ball, playing a pivotal role in their two title wins. Despite Chennaiyin performing miserably last season, the midfielder kept up his standards and was perhaps one of their best players. With Xisco Hernandez now having departed for Odisha FC, the Blues will be looking at the Brazilian for providing the creative impetus in the final third of the pitch. Expect Augusto to be a big factor both on and off the pitch every time the two rivals lock horns in Hero ISL 2019-20.
Bartholomew Ogbeche – NorthEast United FC to Kerala Blasters FC
The Highlanders had a historic season last time around, reaching the semifinals of the Hero ISL for the first time since their inception. While a lot of players had an integral role in that run, the influence of ace striker Bartholomew Ogbeche was unmatched in its importance to the final output. The 34-year-old scored 12 goals and provided two assists in 18 matches for the Highlanders. His experience guided the entire frontline and helped them excel in their personal roles and was a major reason behind Eelco Schattorie trusting the forward and bringing him to Kerala. Schattorie opting to move to Kerala after working his magic for NorthEast last season was a tough pill to swallow for Highlanders' fans to begin with, but Ogbeche following the Dutchman to Kochi may be the factor which transcends the on-field rivalry between two of the most passionate fanbases in Hero ISL.
Anas Edathodika and Dheeraj Singh – Kerala Blasters FC to ATK
The rivalry between Kerala Blasters and ATK have been one of the highlights of the Hero ISL ever since the inaugural Hero ISL final in 2014, but reached new heights with Iain Hume's famous, or rather infamous, switch from Kochi to Kolkata back in 2015. Players switching between the two rivals have always been a bone of contention between the two sets of fans and this season will not be any different, courtesy Anas and Dheeraj's transfer from Kerala to ATK. Despite not having the rub of the green with respect to injuries with the Blasters last term, Malappuram-born Anas is a local hero at Kerala and him switching allegiances to ATK was bound to create a few headlines. Dheeraj, on the other hand, is a rising star in Indian football and endeared himself to Kerala fans last season with some stunning displays in goal, despite playing in a team struggling defensively. The duo swapping Kochi to Kolkata has already been a hot topic of social media banter between the two fanbases and will also be significant when the two meet on the field.
Lucian Goian – Mumbai City FC to Chennaiyin FC
A rock in defence for the Islanders over the past three seasons, Goian has established himself as one of the best defenders in the league, putting himself about and demonstrating some wonderful leadership skills. He played 50 matches for the Mumbai City and even captained the side in the 2017-18 campaign. Last season, the Goian-led Islanders defence kept six successive clean sheets en route to reaching the semifinals, where they were eventually beaten by FC Goa. Now with Chennaiyin, the Romanian will be expected to roll out more of the same and lead the two-time Hero ISL champions to a record-breaking third title.
Michael Soosairaj - Jamshedpur FC to ATK
The last two seasons of Hero ISL have seen a brand new East Indian rivalry gradually take root between ATK and Jamshedpur FC. ATK's move to snap up Michael Soosairaj - possibly Jamshedpur FC's biggest star from last season - is only expected to mature the competitive strife even further. Soosairaj was sensational for Jamshedpur in Hero ISL 2018-19, raking up four goals in 14 outings and will look to deliver for ATK this season.
Rowllin Borges – NorthEast United FC to Mumbai City FC
While Federico Gallego and Ogbeche grabbed the headlines for NorthEast last season, Borges was one of the biggest underrated heroes for not only the Highlanders but also in the league. The hard-working midfielder was one of the first names on Schattorie’s teamsheets and was highly rated by Highlanders’ fans. Traditionally a holding midfielder, Borges reinvented himself last term and drastically improved the attacking side of his game, scoring four goals and assisting a further two. The 27-year-old’s passing accuracy was a stunning 82.91%, whilst in defence, he contributed with 53 tackles, 27 interceptions and 29 clearances. NorthEast fans would have liked nothing more than watching Borges continue at Guwahati. But with the midfielder moving to Mumbai City, will have to get used to life without the midfield dynamo marshalling their midfield.