Bolstered attack, experienced midfield and a new-look defence: A look at Chennaiyin's transfers

Photo credit: Chennaiyin FC

Chennaiyin FC would be looking to add a third Hero Indian Super League title to their trophy cabinet, after an underwhelming 2020-21 season, which saw them finish eighth in the table. The Marina Machans scored the least number of goals last season, and the former champions would be aiming to be a lot more clinical in front of goal.

There’s been a major overhaul of the squad for the upcoming season, with five of the six overseas talents being replaced, and several strategic domestic signings being secured. Here’s a summary of their transfer activity in this window:

INs

  • Ariel Borysiuk

Chennaiyin FC have roped in 30-year old Ariel Borysiuk from Polish top tier side Jagiellonia Białystok. The defensive midfielder started his career with Legia Warsaw and has had stints in Germany, Russia, Poland, and England.

In his 14-year-long career, the Polish international has racked up 300+ club appearances and 12 International caps. He’ll most likely be the fulcrum in the Chennaiyin midfield, shielding their backline and starting attacks from deep.

  • Slavko Damjanović

The Marina Machans have bolstered their defence with the acquisition of Montenegrin defender Slavko Damjanović from TSC Backa Topola of the Serbian SuperLiga. The left-footed center-back joins the club with heaps of experience, as his journeyman career has taken him to Serbia, Hungary, South Africa, Uzbekistan, and now India.

Bozidar Bandovic would be relying on Damjanovic to marshal the Chennaiyin backline, which looked leaky at times last season.

  • Mirlan Murzaev

Mirlan Murzaev has joined Chennaiyin FC from Kyrgyz side Dordoi Bishkek ahead of the 2021-22 season. The versatile forward can operate across the frontline and has been proficient at finding the back of the net, wherever he has played.

The Kyrgyz winger also holds the distinction of being the highest goalscorer for his country and has more than 100 goals in his 14-year long career.

  • Lukasz Gikiewicz

Chennaiyin FC have secured the services of marksman Lukasz Gikiewicz, who will be responsible to provide the thrust in attack for the Marina Machans this season. Another vastly experienced professional with over 200 club appearances under his belt, Lukasz has played in Poland, Kazakhstan, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Thailand, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain.

The poacher was the top scorer in the Jordanian top tier in 2017-18 and he’ll look to replicate his brilliance in India.

  • Vladimir Koman

Adding creativity to their offensive unit, the club has acquired attacking midfielder Vladimir Koman. Koman has formerly plied his trade in Europe with Sampdoria in Italy, and Monaco in France, among others, and has experienced Asian football in his time at Iranian club Sepahan.

The Hungarian has won 36 international caps and has featured in over 300 club games in his career.

  • Narayan Das

Narayan Das has moved south to Chennaiyin FC from SC East Bengal. The left-back is one of the few players to have crossed 100 appearances in the Hero Indian Super League, and his experience of playing at the top level would be an asset for his side.

Das made 17 appearances for the Red and Gold brigade last season, assisting once while making 46 clearances, 41 tackles, and 31 blocks.

  • Deepak Devrani

The center-back has joined the club from defending I-League champions Gokulam Kerala FC. A three time I-League winner, he would be looking to cement his spot in the center of the Chennaiyin backline, after coming off the back of two impressive seasons with Tiddim Road Athletic Union (TRAU FC) and Gokulam Kerala, respectively.

  • Davinder Singh

Right-back Davinder Singh has joined the two-time champions, after being sidelined for three seasons due to an injury. The sturdy full-back’s rise to the top was meteoric, as he was handed an international call-up directly after being scouted at the inter-university level.

He has featured for the Indian senior team and has also played for Mumbai City FC in the Hero ISL 2017-18 season.

  • Jobby Justin

Jobby Justin has signed a two-year deal with Chennaiyin FC and the striker would be looking to make vital contributions in the upcoming season. He had a brilliant season with SC East Bengal in 2018-19, scoring 8 goals and assisting another 4. He lifted the Hero ISL title in his debut season in 2019-20, but an injury kept him out of action in the 2020-21 season.

  • Debjit Majumder

The custodian has inked a multi-year deal with the club and adds experience to Chennaiyin’s goalkeeping unit. Majumder has been a two-time I-League champion with Mohun Bagan, while also lifting the Indian Super League title with ATK FC in 2016. He was a regular feature for Robbie Fowler’s SC East Bengal in the 2020-21 season.

  • Salam Ranjan Singh

The towering center-back has joined the Marina Machans from ATK Mohun Bagan for the upcoming season. A Pune FC product, Salam has made over 50 appearances in the I-League, and has also had Hero ISL stints with Northeast United FC, and ATK FC.

He has also made 11 appearances for the national team, having been a part of the squad for the 2018 Intercontinental Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup.

  • Ninthoinganba Meetei

Chennaiyin FC have snapped up hot prospect Ninthoi Meetei from NorthEast United FC. The young winger was a part of the Indian team that played in the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup. He was a member of the Indian Arrows for 2 seasons, before joining the Highlanders in the 2019-20 season, for whom he featured 24 times in two seasons.

With his pace and dribbling abilities, he will be a valuable addition to the Chennaiyin attack.

OUTs

  • Enes Sipović

Enes Sipović has moved to fellow Hero ISL side Kerala Blasters FC from Chennaiyin FC. The central defender was an imposing figure in the Marina Machans’ lineup, clocking in 79 clearances, 30 blocks, and 49 tackles in the 2020-21 season.

The Bosnian had spells in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Romania, Belgium, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, before arriving in India in 2020.

  • Eli Sabia

Brazilian Eli Sabia has made the switch to Jamshedpur FC, after spending three consecutive seasons with Chennaiyin. He first featured for Chennaiyin in 2016, and then returned to the club ahead of the 2018-19 season and has been with the club ever since, also being appointed as the club captain in the latter half of 2020-21.

Chennaiyin FC will miss his leadership at the back, which was vital in their successful 2019-20 campaign.

  • Deepak Tangri

Deepak Tangri has moved to ATK Mohun Bagan, after spending three seasons with Chennaiyin FC. The 22-year-old midfielder made 17 appearances last season and was a reliable figure in midfield for Csaba Laszlo, shielding his side’s backline, and turning over possession in the center of the park.

He spent his formative years at the Mohun Bagan academy and featured for the Indian Arrows in the I-League before moving to Chennaiyin FC in 2019-20.

  • Lalchhuanmawia Fanai (Chhuantea)

Mizo left-back Lalchhuanmawia Fanai will be plying his trade with Roundglass Punjab FC in the upcoming I-League season, after a one year stay at Chennaiyin FC. He has featured for numerous clubs like Shillong Lajong, Bengaluru FC, Mumbai City FC, Pune City FC and Odisha FC.

He could only manage 4 appearances under Csaba Laszlo last season.

RELEASED

  • Esmaël Gonçalves (Isma)

The Bissau-Guinean forward has left the two-time Hero ISL champions after a one-year stay. With just 4 goals and 1 assist in 16 appearances, Isma couldn’t solve Chennaiyin’s woes in front of goal, which resulted in them missing out on a semi-final berth.

He has previously had stints in France, Portugal, Cyprus, Scotland, Uzbekistan, Iran, Japan, and Saudi Arabia.

  • Memo

Memo has been released by Chennaiyin FC ahead of the 2021-22 season, marking the end of the Brazilian’s 5-year long journey in India. The defensive midfielder was a regular feature for Jamshedpur FC from 2017 to 2020, playing 54 games for them across 3 seasons.

He made 19 appearances last season for Chennaiyin, clocking in 99 tackles and a pass completion rate of 73%.

  • Fatkhullo Fatkhulloev

Fatkhullo Fatkhulloev was primarily used off the bench in the 2020-21 season, and couldn’t produce the flair and creativity that his side needed, as the Tajik international could only get on the scoresheet once. He has returned home to play for CSKA Pamir Dushanbe of the Tajik top division.

The 31-year-old has spent the majority of his career playing in Tajikistan, while also gaining experience in the Indonesian and Uzbekistani leagues.

  • Jakub Sylvestr

Sylvestr arrived in India with great expectations, as he had big boots to fill, replacing the outgoing Nerijus Valskis. The Slovakian had an underwhelming season upfront, managing only 2 goals and 3 assists in 19 appearances.

He has represented several teams in his career like Dinamo Zagreb, FC Nürnberg, Paderborn SC, and has now joined Zalgiris Vilnius in the Lithuanian top division.

  • Thoi Singh

Chennaiyin bid farewell to Thoi Singh, after six glorious years at the club, which saw him lift two Hero ISL titles. The industrious winger scored 4 goals and managed 6 assists in his time at the club.

Interestingly, Thoi completed 71 tackles in the 2015 season, which was the highest that year. He made 12 appearances last season, with most of them coming off the bench.

  • Karanjit Singh

Veteran goalkeeper Karanjit Singh has left the club after spending five seasons with them. He was primarily used as a backup for Vishal Kaith in the previous two seasons, after being the established first choice from 2016 to 2019.

Prior to joining the Marina Machans, the custodian enjoyed long spells with JCT FC and Salgaocar FC, and has also been capped by the national team 17 times.

  • Abhijit Sarkar

Abhijit Sarkar has left Chennaiyin FC, after spending 3 years with the club. He was a part of the Indian squad for the 2017 Under-17 World Cup. He joined developmental side Indian Arrows for the 2017-18 season, and was picked up by Chennaiyin FC in the following season.

After spending a year on loan at SC East Bengal FC in 2019-20, he returned to the club for the 2020-21 season, where he made only one appearance.

  • Sinivasan Pandiyan

Local talent Sinivasan Pandiyan has left the club after a three year stint. Operating in midfield, Pandiyan had a breakout season in 2017-18 with Chennai City FC, which helped facilitate a move to the Indian Super League.

Over the course of three seasons, Pandiyan made only 1 appearance for the club.

Chennaiyin FC have bolstered their attack, roping in experienced players who are proven goalscorers, while also tightening things at the back with the likes of Davinder Singh, Deepak Devrani and Salam Singh.

Božidar Bandović would have an extremely strong and well-rounded squad to work with, and if the talent on paper translates onto the pitch, the Marina Machans would be a formidable team to come up against in the 2021-22 season.

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