Mohun Bagan Super Giant roped in young Indian international Lalengmawia Ralte on a five-year deal, adding a sparkling addition to their star-studded midfield.

Popularly known as Apuia, the 23-year-old footballer made his Indian Super League (ISL) debut with NorthEast United FC in the 2020–21 season, where he won the prestigious ‘Emerging Player of the Season’ accolade. Notably, he captained the Highlanders in an ISL match against FC Goa at the age of 20, becoming the youngest captain in the league’s history.

Also Read: Midfield dynamo: Looking back at Apuia’s tremendous stint with Mumbai City FC

In the subsequent season, Apuia joined Mumbai City FC, marking a new chapter in his football career. Playing in a side with big names, the Mizo midfielder thrived and became an indispensable part of the Islanders’ lineup during his three-season stint.

During his tenure with Mumbai City FC, Apuia secured the League Shield award in the 2022–23 season and clinched the ISL Cup in 2023–24.

As Apuia prepares to represent the Mariners for the next five years, let’s explore what he brings to the table for Mohun Bagan SG under their new head coach, Jose Molina.

Defensive solidity

With his mature understanding of both phases of play and sharp instincts to anticipate opponents' movements, Apuia brings significant impact as a deep-lying midfielder, adept at shielding his defence line.

In his 59 ISL appearances for the Islanders, Apuia attempted 128 tackles with a success rate of 68.75%. He engaged in 474 duels, winning 60.97%, and made 58 interceptions, showcasing his defensive prowess.

These statistics underscore Apuia's adeptness and proficiency in defensive midfield.

Furthermore, with Deepak Tangri and Abhishek Suryavanshi also in their ranks, Apuia's inclusion in the defensive midfield zone will bolster Mohun Bagan SG's potential starting lineup, providing versatility for their head coach. Guided by Molina, renowned for his build-up play strategies, Apuia could prove to be a decisive factor in the Mariners' setup.

Impact in the final third

Mohun Bagan SG boast a star-studded midfield enriched by the experience of notable Indian internationals like Sahal Abdul Samad and Anirudh Thapa. With the addition of Apuia, one of India’s most promising midfield talents, the Mariners have a midfield trio that they could rely upon for years, comprising the country’s finest players in that role.

Apuia has already demonstrated his ability to control the game tempo and dominate possession under the guidance of coaches Des Buckingham and Petr Kratky in recent seasons. Notably, he led the list among Mumbai City FC players in winning fouls over the past three campaigns.

His agile runs, precise passing, immaculate tackles, and swift transitions make Apuia a formidable presence in the heart of the pitch.

Wearing jersey number 45 for the Islanders, Apuia has amassed 4875 minutes on the field, completing 2599 passes with an impressive accuracy rate of 84.61%.

Versatility

In addition to his prowess in dominating the centre of the pitch, Apuia possesses the potential to orchestrate Mohun Bagan SG’s offensive moves with his sharp passing and astute vision.

During his tenure with Mumbai City FC, the midfielder showcased his versatility by playing various roles within the starting lineup, contributing significantly to their attacking strategies. Apart from his usual role as a holding midfielder, Apuia also excelled as an attacking midfielder and as a box-to-box midfielder.

He demonstrated his offensive capabilities by creating 42 scoring opportunities for the Islanders. Additionally, he completed 333 passes into the final third and scored four goals himself.

With his playmaking abilities and adaptability to different positions, the Mizo footballer is set to enhance Mohun Bagan SG’s attacking prowess significantly. Teaming up with experienced players like Sahal Abdul Samad and Dimitri Petratos, Apuia will undoubtedly bring a touch of brilliance to the Mariners’ style of play.