Spanish contingent set to play major role in Bengaluru's title defence

Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions, Bengaluru FC have arguably got the best Indian core of players in the league. Captain Sunil Chhetri, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and defender Rahul Bheke are the standout stars, with head coach Carles Cuadrat calling upon the services of winger Udanta Singh and fullback Nishu Kumar extensively last term, as well.

While that group played a massive role in the Blues’ maiden Hero ISL title win, Cuadrat’s fellow countrymen were just as integral, if not more to the overall cause. Defender Juanan was an ever-present figure for the club last term, putting himself about, instructing those in front and starting attacks using his passing range.

Midfielder Dimas Delgado was another such regular who has since been retained by the Blues ahead of next season. Head coach Carles Cuadrat trusted his countryman in 17 Hero ISL 2018-19 matches, playing him either in central midfield or in the hole behind the striker. The 36-year-old repaid his manager’s belief in stunning fashion, scoring one goal and providing five assists.

He was a real leader in the team and is one of those players who improve those operating around him. Next season will present bigger challenges though with better and more equipped competitors. However, having played top-flight football in leagues around the world, Delgado is experienced enough to understand and comprehend where he can and cannot beat his rivals.

Centre-back Albert Serran has also been handed a new contract after a faultless 2018-19 campaign. Operating at the heart of the defence, the 35-year-old also appeared 17 times lasts season, and although he didn’t score, there was an assist to his name.

Cuadrat likes his defenders to be comfortable on the ball, meaning Serran is almost indispensable for the Blues. His tenacity, instincts and ability to read a situation is second to very few Hero ISL defenders, making him Cuadrat’s first choice in that position. With Juanan and Bheke, Serran forms a very formidable defensive lineup capable of holding out even the best of attacks.

On the other hand, Miku’s departure prompted the club into action and they brought in Spanish forward, Manuel Onwu. The 31-year-old joined the champions from Spanish third division club, UCAM Murcia. Last season, he scored 11 times from 32 outings in the league, while also played two matches in the Copa del Rey.

The Spaniard comes with extensive experience having earlier represented Osasuna, Dinamo Tbilisi, Lleida Esportiu and Lorca at different times during his career. Cuadrat will be hopeful that Onwu settles in quickly and gets on with the job of trying to replicate the performances of the irreplaceable Miku.

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