Hero Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Mumbai City FC have announced the signing of midfielder Vinit Rai on a one-year permanent deal, the club announced through their social media handles on Saturday.

The Assam-born midfielder initially joined the Islanders in January 2022 on loan from Odisha FC and made 14 appearances for the club across all competitions, including in Mumbai City FC’s historic 2022 AFC Champions League campaign. Mumbai City FC loaned Rai for another year, with the midfielder continuing with the Islanders for the 2022-23 season. Rai played an influential role in the Islanders’ record-breaking Hero ISL Shield win, featuring 11 times and scoring two spectacular goals against Chennaiyin FC and NorthEast United FC.

A product of the Tata Football Academy, Rai started his Hero ISL career in 2016 and has played a total of 90 league games so far, featuring for Kerala Blasters, now defunct Delhi Dynamos, and Odisha FC before joining the Islanders.

Commenting on the permanent move to Mumbai City FC, Rai said: “I am thrilled to extend my journey with Mumbai City FC for another year. The learning and experiences I’ve had in my time here have helped me grow a lot. Coach Des, his staff and everyone here has supported me wholeheartedly and I am determined to help the club achieve success just like we did last season. I feel privileged to be part of this remarkable team and I’m ready to continue working hard for this badge and our fans.”

Des Buckingham – Head Coach, Mumbai City FC said: “Vinit has shown his qualities with us over the past two seasons and will be an important player for us going into next season. He has been patient and worked extremely hard and learned how we want him to play and is an extremely positive player in our environment. I am very happy that Vinit will continue his development with us for another season and look forward to him contributing even more as we look towards an exciting campaign.”

Odisha FC complete signing of India U20 forward Aphaoba Singh

Odisha FC have signed young forward Aphaoba Singh from Punjab FC on a three-year deal. The promising attacker, known for his blistering speed and versatility is a vital addition to the Juggernauts. Aphaoba's ability to exploit wide areas and stretch opposition backlines will undoubtedly provide Odisha FC with a new dimension in their attacking options.

Aphaoba has previously played for Punjab FC in the Hero I-League where he won the title last season, Minerva Academy in the Hero I-League 2nd Division and represented India in the AFC U20 Asian Cup Qualifiers.

With a strong focus on developing young talent, the club has consistently aimed to provide a platform to young prodigies who can go on to represent the first team regularly in the future.

Furthermore, Aphaoba's versatility allows him to be used in different tactical approaches. Whether it be deploying him as an out-and-out winger, or even as a forward, his adaptability will hopefully make him a valuable asset to the squad.