Hero Indian Super League (ISL) side NorthEast United FC, on Wednesday, confirmed the signing of defender Alex Saji on a loan deal until the end of the Hero ISL 2022-23 season from Hyderabad FC.

Saji reunites with head coach Vincenzo Annese, with the duo previously part of Gokulam Kerala FC’s consecutive Hero I-league triumphs with Gokulam Kerala FC from 2020-22. Saji becomes NorthEast United FC’s second signing of the winter transfer window after NorthEast United FC bolster their defence with Hira Mondal’s signature, who joined the team earlier this month.

Saji, born and brought up in Wayanad, Kerala plies his trade primarily as a central defender, but can also play as full-back. With 26 I-League appearances under his belt, the youngster was crucial in helping the Malabarians to secure their maiden I-league, and then provided security in defending their league title with impeccable performances in the 2021-22 season. The defender also started all three AFC Cup group games for Gokulam Kerala FC.

Saji was awarded a call-up for the Indian U-23 National team for the AFC-23 Asian Cup qualification campaign. Hyderabad FC recruited him ahead of the Hero ISL 2022-23 season as he signed his contract with the defending champions until 2025. However, he hasn’t featured for Hyderabad FC this season. Saji will be hoping to get some game time under Annese as NorthEast United FC look to lift themselves from the bottom position in the Hero ISL standings.