Deadline day transfer wrap: East Bengal FC sign Vazquez, Poojary joins Bengaluru FC, and more
Mumbai City FC, FC Goa, East Bengal FC, Bengaluru FC and Punjab FC were among the clubs that announced new signings on Wednesday.
Indian Super League (ISL) club East Bengal FC has signed Spanish midfielder Victor Vazquez until the end of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season, the club announced on Wednesday.
“Victor is a product of FC Barcelona’s style of football. He is a player from the generation of Lionel Messi,Gerard Piqué and Cesc Fabregas. His creativity in the midfield will offer many moments of joy and brilliance to the East Bengal supporters.
“He is accustomed to playing on the big stage, having played in the UEFA Champions League before and we believe that he will shine in the ISL too,” East Bengal’s head coach Carles Cuadrat said.
Vázquez rose through the youth ranks at FC Barcelona and was part of the iconic La Masia batch that comprised Messi, Fabregas and Piqué. He was promoted to Barcelona’s first team by Pep Guardiola in 2008 and scored his first goal for FCB’s first team against FC Rubin Kazan in the 2010-11 UEFA Champions League group stage.
In April 2011, Vázquez joined the Belgian Pro League side Club Brugge. Representing Club Brugge in 173 official matches, Vázquez registered 25 goals and 50 assists, guiding them to a Belgian Cup (2014-15) and a Belgian Pro League (2015-16) title.
He was also instrumental in taking Club Brugge to the 2014-15 UEFA Europa League quarter-finals and was voted the Belgian Professional Footballer of the Year.
After leaving Club Brugge, Vázquez has played for several clubs like Mexico’s Cruz Azul, Qatar Star League’s Al-Arabi and Umm Salal SC, Belgian Pro League’s K.A.S. Eupen and Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC and LA Galaxy.
“I am very happy to join Emami East Bengal. I have heard about the illustrious history of the club and the incredible passion of the fans from Coach Carles and Coach Dimas. I am excited to make my mark in Indian football and contribute to this iconic club’s success. Joy East Bengal!”
FC Goa rope in defender Nim Dorjee
FC Goa on Wednesday announced the acquisition of defender Nim Dorjee Tamang on a short-term contract until the culmination of the ongoing 2023-24 season.
The seasoned defender brings a wealth of experience and skill to the Gaurs as they intensify their pursuit of the top honours in the ISL.
Nim Dorjee’s journey in football began at the prestigious Indian Air Force academy before his talents earned him a spot in the India U-16 national team. He honed his skills further in the youth setup of Shillong Lajong, gradually ascending to the first-team ranks.
His impressive performances saw him captain Lajong in his final season with them before embarking on a career in the ISL. The 28-year-old defender made his mark in the Indian top-flight with stints at FC Pune City and NorthEast United, where he played a pivotal role in guiding the latter to the ISL Cup playoffs during the 2020-21 season.
His tenure at Hyderabad FC that followed, under the tutelage of then-head coach Manolo Marquez, further showcased his defensive prowess, culminating in the team’s triumphant Cup campaign.
Nim’s partnership with Odei Onaindia in Hyderabad FC’s defence was instrumental in the team’s commendable performance in the 2022-23 season, where they finished as runners-up in the race for the ISL Shield. Now, at FC Goa, he reunites with Coach Marquez and Onaindia, aiming to bolster the Gaurs’ title aspirations as they currently sit just two points adrift of the league leaders, Kerala Blasters.
Commenting on the signing, FC Goa’s head coach Manolo Marquez expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “Nim Dorjee Tamang is an experienced defender with a proven track record in the ISL. He is aggressive and has a good aerial game. He played three consecutive Cup play-offs in ISL, one with NorthEast and two with Hyderabad being an important player in all of them.
“I’m happy to have him here with us, and I look forward to seeing him contribute positively to our successes,” the tactician continued.
Nim Dorjee Tamang himself expressed his excitement about joining FC Goa, saying, “FC Goa is one of the top teams in India with the right ambitions. It’s wonderful to be here now. I’m also glad to reunite with Coach Manolo and my former teammate Odei, who is one of the best defenders in the league currently.
“Having worked with them in the past, I hope to integrate quickly within the team’s system and continue their momentum in the ISL. Eagerly looking forward to the next game,” he added.
Bengaluru FC sign India international Nikhil Poojary
Indian football team defender Nikhil Poojary has joined Bengaluru FC on a four-year deal from Hyderabad FC, the club revealed on Wednesday.
Poojary joins former Hyderabad FC teammate Chinglensana Singh at Bengaluru FC, who previously signed a long deal with the Blues on Tuesday. He two will also reunite with Halicharan Narzary and Rohit Danu, with the quartet being a part of Hyderabad FC’s ISL-Cup winning squad during the 2021-22 season.
Before moving to Hyderabad FC in 2019, Poojary represented FC Pune City FC in the ISL. Before that, he represented East Bengal FC. The full-back has been a regular player for the national team over the past one year and has established himself as the first choice right-back. He even featured for India in the AFC Asian Cup, starting two of their three matches.
Iker Guarrotxena returns to India
Mumbai City FC on Wednesday announced the signing of Iker Guarrotxena. The Spanish attacker joins the Islanders on a short-term contract that will see him don the sky blue until the end of the 2023-24 season.
Hailing from the famous footballing city of Bilbao, Guarrotxena joined Athletic Bilbao at the age of 9 and played close to a 100 games for Bilbao Athletic – the club’s ‘B’ side. Guarrotxena comes from a footballing family and is the nephew of Endika Guarrotxena, an Athletic Bilbao icon.
Following his time at Bilbao Athletic, Guarrotxena turned out for the likes of CD Mirandés, in the Spanish second tier, and UD Logrones in the Spanish third-tier where he was the fourth-highest goal-scorer in the league with 14 goals which helped Logrones secure a place in the promotion play-offs.
The well-travelled Spaniard has enjoyed a career that has seen him play close to 350 games at the highest levels in club football, including representing clubs in Poland (Pogoń Szczecin), Greece (Volos) and Australia (Western United) before moving to India in 2022 to join FC Goa. The Spaniard scored 11 goals in 20 appearances in the 2022-23 ISL before he moved back home to join Real Murcia, making 10 appearances in the Primera Federación, Spain’s third-tier football league.
Guarrotxena joins Mumbai City fc on deadline day and will wear the number 34 shirt for the Islanders.
Iker Guarrotxena said: “I am delighted to be back in India and in the ISL. Mumbai City FC have always been one of the best teams in the competition and it is an honour to join a club who set very high standards on and off the pitch. Mumbai City FC have a history of success, and I hope to be able to contribute to that in my own way in my time here. I can’t wait to get to Mumbai and link up with my new teammates and our fans.”
Petr Kratky, Head Coach, Mumbai City FC, said: “We're happy to have Iker join us at Mumbai City. He's a fantastic player with the right mindset, physical abilities, and skills that complement our playing squad. Iker has already had a taste of the ISL, which influenced our decision positively. I'm looking forward to having him in our squad for the second part of the season.”
Punjab FC announce four new signings
Punjab FC (PFC) have announced the arrival of four new signings to the team – forward Bidyashagar Singh, winger Bryce Miranda and midfielder Isaac Vanmalwawma and midfielder Sahil Tavora.
The 25-year-old forward, Bidyashagar Singh, joins the team from Kerala Blasters FC on a permanent transfer. Singh started his career from East Bengal FC and then later moved to TRAU FC in the I-league where he finished the 2020-21 season as the highest goal scorer with 12 goals. He has so far made 10 appearances in the Indian Super League and would be a key addition to the Shers’ side for the remaining matches of the season.
Winger Bryce Miranda joins Punjab FC on loan from Kerala Blasters FC for the remainder of the season. The 24-year-old pacy winger came into limelight from his time with Churchill Brothers FC in the I-League and after moving to Kerala Blasters, where he featured in 12 matches and provided two assists in the Indian Super League.
Isaac Vanlalsawma, who joins Punjab FC from Odisha FC, started his professional career with Shillong Lajong FC in the I-League where he netted three goals during the two seasons. He then moved to the Indian Super League and has so far featured in 90 matches having scored three goals and providing five assists. He was also part of the Odisha FC squad which lifted the 2023 Super Cup in Kerala.
Meanwhile, Tavora joins the club on loan from Hyderabad FC. The midfielder has been part of the club since its inception in 2019. He was part of the Hyderabad FC squad that lifted the ISL Cup during the 2021-22 season.
Speaking about the new signings, Football Director of Punjab FC, Nikolaos Topoliatis said, “The January transfer window and long break gave us ample time to bring these three experienced players into the squad. We are confident that they’ll prove to be a vital part of Punjab FC’s future as we get ready for the second phase of the season.”
Punjab also announced the departure of Brandon Vanlalremdika. Vanlalremdika was part of Punjab FC's squad that won the I-League during the 2022-23 season, following which they were promoted to the ISL. The experienced midfielder has also represented East Bengal FC and Aizawl FC in the past.
Roystyn Griffiths, Abdenasser El Khayati depart Mumbai City FC
Mumbai City FC on Wednesday that they have parted company with defender Rostyn Griffiths and midfielder Abdenasser El Khayati.
Mumbai City and Nasser El Khayati have agreed to a mutual termination of his contract after Nasser expressed his desire to pursue opportunities closer to home.— Mumbai City FC (@MumbaiCityFC) January 31, 2024
The Club would like to thank him for his contributions and wishes him the best for the future.
Griffiths joined the club in 2022 and was part of the squad that won the ISL League under former head coach Des Buckingham. Meanwhile, El Khayati joined the Islanders ahead of the ISL 2023-24 season from Chennaiyin FC.
Rostyn Griffiths has mutually parted ways with Mumbai City. The club would like thank him for his leadership and contributions, and wishes him well for the future.— Mumbai City FC (@MumbaiCityFC) January 31, 2024
Read more ⤵️#AamchiCity 🔵
Apart from Griffiths and El Khayati, midfielder Greg Stewart also Mumbai City FC left the club in the January transfer window.
Pungte leaves Odisha FC, joins Dempo SC on loan
Odisha FC on Wednesday revelaed that midfielder Pungte Lapung has joined Dempo SC on loan until the end of the season. He had previously signed a three-year professional contract ahead of the ISL 2023-24 season. Pungte represented the Odisha FC Reserves in the Reliance Foundation Development League and the 2023 Durand Cup.
The club can confirm that Pungte will join Dempo SC on loan till the end of the season.— Odisha FC (@OdishaFC) January 31, 2024
We wish him all the best for his time in Goa 💜#OdishaFC #AmaTeamAmaGame #KalingaWarriors pic.twitter.com/nWlolCMHA7