Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Kerala Blasters have finally secured the services of one of the most sought-after Indian forwards, with the club announcing the signing of Ishan Pandita on Thursday.

After much speculation, the 25-year-old has ultimately chosen his next destination, with the forward committing to a two-year deal with the Blasters.

Since bursting onto the Indian Football scene with FC Goa, Pandita has showcased his goal-scoring prowess for the Gaurs, as well as for his previous club, Jamshedpur FC. The New Delhi-born player will now look to replicate the same for Ivan Vukomanovic’s side and even improve his performances club level. 

As the excitement builds around this transfer, let's take a look at what the Indian international could offer Kerala Blasters FC in the upcoming season.

Perfect fit for Vukomanovic’s system

The forward is well-known for operating between the centre-backs and possesses an impressive ability in the heading. With Vukomanovic known to be flexible with his system, Pandita could seamlessly integrate into the frontline alongside Dimitrios Diamantakos or even play off him.

His inclusion could offer a distinct dimension to the team, potentially boosting the goal production for his side. And now his introduction seems even more crucial for the squad, given that their Australian forward, Jaushua Sotirio, is out injured with a major ankle injury.

Under Vukomanovic, Kerala Blasters FC have excelled in seamlessly transitioning from defence to attack, showcasing their prowess in executing swift and direct attacks. Pandita, who is unafraid of taking on defenders with his pace and strength, can allow the likes of Luna and Diamantakos to play with more freedom.

Goal provider

Kerala Blasters FC missed having a second striker last season, and the absence of an Indian striker was clearly evident as well. The Blasters managed to find the back of the net 28 times in the ISL last season, with ten of those goals being scored by their Greek forward Diamantakos, who ranked seventh in the goal-scoring chart last season.

Ivan Kalyuzhnyi and Adrian Luna were the joint second-top scorers for them in the ISL last season, each with four goals, while their other forward, Apostolos Giannou, only managed to score two goals in 17 appearances in the league.

This was a real concern for Kerala Blasters last season, and the recent acquisition of Pandita could potentially resolve this problem. His sharp instinct and proficiency as a goal poacher have the capability to address the challenge for Vukomanovic’s squad.

An impact substitute

The Indian international started in just eight games in the ISL for Jamshedpur FC during the last two seasons and made as many as 26 appearances off the bench. He accumulated a total of 1027 minutes in the league for the Men of Steel and scored five goals during his two-year stint with the club. All three goals he scored last season came when he came off the bench.

However, Pandita earned himself the label of the “Super Sub” during his first season in the league when he was with FC Goa. The frontman netted four goals for the Gaurs, all of them as a substitute. He accumulated only 131 minutes of football with FC Goa in the ISL 2020-21 season, with an impressive goals-per-minute ratio of 32.75 minutes. Going by his track record, the young forward could emerge as the X-Factor for the Blasters in the upcoming season.