Hero Indian Super League (ISL) side East Bengal FC has signed Spanish duo Javier Siverio and Saul Crespo on one-year contracts. Both players joined the Red and Gold Brigade on free transfers after their contracts with Hyderabad FC and Odisha FC respectively came to an end.

Siverio, a graduate of the UD Las Palmas youth setup in 2015, had represented several Spanish teams, including Las Palmas B, Racing Santander B, and Racing Santander, before joining Indian Football with Hyderabad FC prior to the 2021-22 season.

The 25-year-old forward featured in 54 games for the Yellow and Black across all competitions during the past two seasons, scoring 16 goals and providing two assists. He played a crucial role in helping Hyderabad FC secure their first-ever Hero ISL title during the 2021-22 season.

After two successful seasons with Hyderabad FC, Siverio is now ready to embark on a new journey in the Hero ISL with East Bengal FC. Filled with excitement, the forward stated, “It’s an honour for me to join this century-old club. India is a great country and I am thrilled to continue my journey in the ISL. I really admire the vision of Coach Carles and the investors for taking this club forward. I’ll try to repose the management’s faith by scoring plenty of goals for the Red & Gold brigade. I’ve seen how passionate the East Bengal fans are and I can’t wait to see them fill the Salt Lake Stadium. Joy East Bengal!”

Commenting on the inclusion of Siverio and Crespo in the East Bengal FC squad, Mr Debabrata Mukherjee of Emami Group said, “We are pleased to have these two young and exciting players from Spain on board. Siverio has demonstrated being a quality finisher in the last two seasons of the ISL and Saul was one of the best midfielders in the league last year. We are confident that they will reach even greater heights under the mentorship of Coach Carles.”

East Bengal FC head coach Carles Cuadrat highlighted the skillsets of these young Spaniards, saying, “Siverio has been a fine goal-getter ever since he arrived in India. He has adapted himself to the rigours of the ISL after two years of playing here. I believe he will help to bolster our attack significantly. Saul, too, knows the competitiveness of the ISL and has played a key part in the midfield, which helped Odisha FC win the Super Cup. Both of them have excellent work rates and also the right attitude to take the club forward.”

For Crespo, representing East Bengal FC gives him an opportunity to play in front of the club's massive fan base and take part in the iconic Kolkata derby. “When I learnt that East Bengal was interested in me, I didn't hesitate to join them. They are one of the biggest clubs in India with the best fans. I watched the Kolkata Derby last year and was very impressed. I really want to play in this team and help them win as many games as possible,” said Crespo.

Central midfielder Saul played a pivotal role in Odisha FC's setup last season. His contributions were instrumental in guiding the Juggernauts to their first-ever Hero ISL playoff qualification and their first Hero Super Cup triumph.

Crespo, born in Ponferrada, had previously played for Spanish clubs such as Ponferradina, Atletico Astorga, and Arandina before venturing into the Hero ISL last year.

The 26-year-old midfielder showcased his talent by playing 2,054 minutes, scoring 3 goals, and providing 2 assists in 26 matches across all tournaments during the previous season.

NorthEast United FC confirm departure of eight players

NorthEast United FC has officially announced the departure of eight players - Alex Saji, Aaron Evans, Sehnaj Singh, Kule Mbombo, Joseba Beitia, Wilmar Gil, Alisher Kholmurodov, and Laldanmawia Ralte – following the end of their contracts with the club.

Gil, who joined the team midway through the 2022-23 season, made an immediate impact with his goal-scoring prowess. The forward led them from the front and helped them restore some pride despite the team's struggles in the league.

The Colombian striker scored the winning goal in a significant upset against the Mariners and played a crucial role as NorthEast United FC reached the semi-finals of the Hero Super Cup.

Gil netted an impressive 15 goals in just 15 games for the club, averaging a goal every 74 minutes.

Sehnaj Singh and Laldanmawia Ralte were signed by the club before the 2021-22 season. Singh made 11 appearances for the Highlanders, while Ralte featured in 21 matches across all competitions, scoring four goals and providing one assist.

Australian defender Evans, who joined the club last summer, played a vital role in defence and also contributed two goals from set-pieces in his 19 appearances.

Joseba Beitia and Kule Mbombo, both signed during the winter transfer window, made limited appearances for the team, featuring in nine and six games respectively.

Versatile defender Saji, who was on loan from Hyderabad FC, has returned to his parent club after a short six-month spell with NorthEast United FC. Saji played in 11 matches for the Highlanders in the Hero ISL and Hero Super Cup.

Additionally, Tajikistan defender Kholmurodov, who joined the club for a short stint during the Hero Super Cup, has also departed after his brief time with the team.

Chennaiyin FC release two more players

The Marina Machans have announced the departure of two more players - Jockson Dhas and Monotosh Chakladar.

Both Dhas and Chakladar joined Chennaiyin FC with high expectations ahead of the 2022-23 season on multi-year deals but were unable to make a significant impact during their tenure with the team.

Dhas, the 28-year-old midfielder, made 10 appearances and scored one goal, while the defender from Bengal only featured in one game in the Hero Super Cup.