East Bengal FC have secured the services of defender Lalchhungnunga on a permanent basis after the defender signed a contract that will keep him at the club till 2026, the club announced on Sunday. 

Lalchhungnunga who is playing for East Bengal FC on loan from Sreenidi Deccan has been a rock at the back for Stephen Constantine’s side and is considered one of the best defenders in the league this season. 

“East Bengal FC have triggered the loan to permanent option to sign Lalchungnunga on a long-term deal that will keep him at the Kolkata-based club till the end of the 2025-26 season. The young defender will complete his permanent move to East Bengal FC from Sreenidi Deccan FC at the start of the 2023-24 season,” the club said in a statement.

The 22-year-old finished second to Mumbai City FC’s Mehtab Singh in the race for the Emerging Player of the Month award for October 2022. The young defender though has maintained his level of performance. 

“I am happy and honoured to commit my future to one of the historic clubs of India, East Bengal FC. I want to thank the board for trusting my abilities. East Bengal FC is an emotion that binds us all together. I feel this is my family away from home and I aim to give m,y best for the club and the fans,” Lalchhungunga said after signing the contract with the club. 

Adept at playing both full-back and centre-back, Lalchungnunga has been deployed in the latter role by East Bengal head coach Stephen Constantine so far. The soft-spoken defender has reposed the faith by playing a crucial role in the heart of East Bengal's defence this season.

Having made his Hero Indian Super League (ISL) debut against Kerala Blasters FC in Kochi on October 7, Lalchungnunga has so far registered 47 clearances, 18 blocks, 11 interceptions and 34 tackles in India’s top-flight league.

He, in fact, made 7 of those 47 clearances during the Red& Golds' 3-1 win over Jamshedpur FC, their third and most recent victory in the current edition of the Hero ISL.

"We are pleased with Lalchungnunga's retention. He has shown a lot of promise at the back for us this season and has the potential to go a long way. An interesting fact is that he is the only outfield player to play every minute of our campaign so far and is the only Hero ISL debutant to do that this season across all teams. We wish him all the best!" said Namrata Parekh, CEO of Emami East Bengal FC Pvt Ltd.

He has also earned praise from his teammates.

“I really appreciate that my fellow centre-back Nunga (Lalchungnunga) listens to my feedback. This quality will help him go a long way,” said Ivan Gonzalez on the player’s development. 

Lalchhungnunga will hope to continue his form for the remainder of the season as East Bengal FC try to sneak into the playoff spots. The young defender will play a vital role for the Red and Golds in what is set to be a crucial part of the campaign.