Indian Super League (ISL) side Odisha FC announced the signing of midfielder Hitesh Sharma. The central midfielder joins the Kalinga Warriors from Hyderabad FC on a two-and-a-half-year deal that will keep him at the club until the end of the 2025-26 season.

Born in Jalandhar, Punjab, Sharma began his youth career with the Chandigarh Football Academy before moving to the Tata Football Academy. After graduating from TFA, he was recruited by I-League side Mumbai FC, where he made his professional debut.

After spending two years with the I-League side, Sharma joined ISL side ATK, where he became a vital cog and spent two years before moving to Hyderabad FC. At Hyderabad FC, he became a key member of Manolo Marquez’s side and was also part of the squad that clinched the ISL Cup during the 2020-21 season.

The 26-year-old made 59 appearances, scored two goals, and provided three assists during his four-and-a-half-year stint with Hyderabad FC. He will now be seeking a new adventure with Odisha FC under the head coach Sergio Lobera.

Borja Herrera joins FC Goa on loan

Spanish midfielder Borja Herrera has joined FC Goa on a short-term loan deal from East Bengal FC till the end of the current season, the club announced on social media platform.

Kickstarting his football journey at UD Las Palmas’ academy and honing his talent at various clubs across Spain, Israel, and India, the midfielder has proven to be a versatile and dynamic presence in the midfield.

The 31-year-old has found the back of the net on five occasions in 31 appearances in the Indian Super League, representing Hyderabad FC in ISL 2022-23 and East Bengal FC in ISL 2023-24. He further created 39 chances including five assists during his tenure in India.

The midfield maestro had been instrumental for East Bengal FC in the first half of the ongoing 2023-24 season and in the Kalinga Super Cup, where they emerged champions on Sunday.

FC Goa coach Manolo Marquez and Borja Herrera share quite a history together with Marquez handing him his debut in LaLiga for UD Las Palmas, before paving the way for his launch in Indian football, signing him for Hyderabad FC in 2022. Herrera was a crucial figure in their ISL 2022-23 campaign where the South Indian giants finished in second place.

Expressing his enthusiasm about the signing, Marquez shared, “Borja is a great player technically. His versatility can help the team greatly because he plays in a lot of different positions. He is also a humble teammate, and always maintains a positive attitude.”

“I worked with him at Las Palmas, he played his first game in La Liga with me and was also a key player in Hyderabad last season,” he added.

Herrera is equally excited to be playing for the Gaurs.

“I think FC Goa is the best place for me to continue my career. Everyone has spoken well to me about the club and the city. I also know all the coaching staff and most of the players very well and that is also important,” he said.

Reflecting back at what he has achieved under Marquez, he added, “Coach Manolo has been a very important person in my career, not only because of the LaLiga debut – we have also experienced a nice promotion together and he was also the person who gave me the opportunity to come to India. I’m happy to work with him again.”

Arriving at a crucial juncture in the season, the inclusion of Herrera in the squad is expected to provide a substantial boost to FC Goa’s title aspirations. The Gaurs currently sit second on the points table, trailing the leaders Kerala Blasters FC by a mere two points and with two games in hand.

Chinglensana Singh joins Bengaluru FC

Manipur-born defender Chinglensana Singh has left Hyderabad FC and signed for Bengaluru FC on a long-term deal that will keep him with the Blues until the end of the 2028-29 season.

The 27-year-old has been playing in the ISL since 2016, having donned the jerseys of Delhi Dynamos (now Odisha FC), FC Goa, and Hyderabad FC on his way to Bengaluru FC. 

In the ISL, Singh has made 94 appearances, registering 25 clean sheets. He has also made 79 interceptions, 63 successful tackles, 264 clearances, and 46 blocks in the process. To add icing to the cake, the centre-back has also gone past the opposition goalkeeper twice.

Bengaluru FC have been a disaster defensively so far this season having conceded the joint second most number of goals (19), alongside Hyderabad FC. Singing for one of the worst defensive teams in the league this season from another team with the same inadequacy, Singh will look forward to being an x-factor for the Blues, who currently sit ninth on the league table. 

Kerala Blasters FC recall Justine Emmanuel

Kerala Blasters FC on Monday announced that they have decided to recall forward Justine Emmanuel from his loan spell at Gokulam Kerala FC. 

Justine had initially joined Gokulam Kerala FC ahead of the I-League 2023-24 season.

Prior to his loan move, Justine showcased his skills for Kerala Blasters FC in the Durand Cup 2023, where he impressively scored two goals in three games.

The decision to bring back Justine provides a timely boost for the Blasters, especially in the wake of an unfortunate setback due to an injury to forward Kwame Peprah. Unfortunately, Peprah has been ruled out for the remainder of the 2023-24 season.