Defender Mehtab Singh extends Mumbai City FC stay; Borja Herrera joins East Bengal FC
Hero Indian Super League (ISL) Mumbai City FC on Monday announced that defender Mehtab Singh has put pen to paper on a three-year contract extension, keeping him with the Islanders until May 2026 while East Bengal FC signed midfielder Borja Herrera on a one-year deal.
Hero Indian Super League (ISL) side Mumbai City FC on Monday announced that defender Mehtab Singh has put pen to paper on a three-year contract extension, keeping him with the Islanders until May 2026.
Since joining Mumbai City FC in 2020, the 25-year-old has gone from strength to strength and has imprinted himself as a pillar in the Islanders’ defence. Mehtab was a vital cog in Des Buckingham’s side that lifted the Hero ISL League Winners’ Shield in the 2022-23 season, secured a return to the AFC Champions League, along with a runners up finish in the Durand Cup.
In his time with the Islanders, Mehtab has developed as a centre-back who is comfortable on the ball and led the charts for most successful passes for Mumbai City FC in the 2022-23 Hero ISL. The young defender from Punjab has also grown to be a constant goalscoring threat from set pieces and has scored five times in Mumbai City FC colours – most notably, a thumping left-footed finish in Kochi against the Kerala Blasters FC in the 2022-23 league campaign.
Mehtab Singh said: “It has been a privilege to be a part of this wonderful team and I am delighted that I have the opportunity to stay here for three more years. Everyone at Mumbai City FC has a great bond and the club has built an environment where we are always supporting and encouraging each other. With the support of Des Buckingham, his staff and everyone at the club, I have certainly grown a lot as a player but also as a person but I don’t want to stop here. I’m excited to live the next chapter of my Mumbai City FC story and I hope I can give more to the club, the coach, my teammates and the fans.”
Mehtab’s strong performances for the Islanders’ caught the eye of the Indian national team soon after. After stints with the India U-23 squad at the AFC U23 Championship, he was called up to the senior national team in March 2023, where he debuted in a 1-0 win against Myanmar in the Hero Tri-Nation Football Tournament in Manipur.
Hailing from Khemkaran in Punjab, Mehtab began his footballing journey at the Mahilpur Football Academy before joining the youth set up at East Bengal in 2016. Impressive performances for the U-18s meant Mehtab was roped into the East Bengal first team, where he spent two seasons, including a loan spell at Gokulam Kerala. Mehtab then made the move to the Islanders in 2020, winning the Hero ISL ‘double’ of the League Winners’ Shield and the trophy in his first season and featuring in a historic AFC Champions League campaign the year after, winning twice in the Group Stage.
Mumbai City FC Head coach Des Buckingham said: “Mehtab has developed into one of the best young Indian defenders in the league and this has been down to his hard work and openness to learning. He possesses a lot of strong characteristics we look for in our defenders and is a very exciting prospect for the future. I’m delighted he had committed to the club and look forward to seeing him continue building on his future potential with us in the coming seasons.”
East Bengal FC strengthen midfield with acquisition of Borja Herrera
East Bengal FC, on Monday, roped in Spanish midfielder Borja Herrera on a one-year contract. The 30-year-old joins the Red & Gold brigade on a free transfer after his one-year contract with Hyderabad FC expired at the end of May.
A vital cog in Hyderabad FC’s (HFC) setup last season, Borja was instrumental in guiding the Nizams to their second consecutive Hero ISL semi-finals. The Spaniard was an influential presence in HFC’s midfield and proved his worth by scoring four goals, making five assists and creating 32 chances in his maiden Hero ISL campaign.
Besides featuring in all of HFC’s 22 Hero ISL matches, Borja also played five matches in the Durand Cup and three matches in the Hero Super Cup, finishing with an overall tally of five goals and nine assists last season. In addition to his attacking prowess, Borja can also contribute defensively.
Commenting on Borja’s inclusion in the East Bengal FC squad, Mr Debabrata Mukherjee of Emami Group said, “Borja is one of the most complete midfielders in the Hero ISL. His depth of experience and leadership qualities will provide plenty of strength to our team both on and off the ground.”
For Borja, representing East Bengal FC gives him an opportunity to play for the club’s huge fan base and participate in the iconic Kolkata derby. He said, “I am excited to continue my footballing journey in India. After a great season with Hyderabad FC, I now want to travel
to Kolkata and be a Red & Gold. We are all aware of East Bengal FC’s rich legacy, so when I got the offer to be a part of this great club, I didn’t have to think twice.”
He added, “I am also looking forward to playing in the Kolkata Derby, which, I’ve heard, is one of the biggest derbies in Asia. I would like to thank coach Carles (Cuadrat), Emami Group and the club for valuing my experience and showing faith in me.”
East Bengal FC head coach Carles Cuadrat praised his compatriot’s versatility, saying, “Borja is a fantastic addition to the squad. He is technically very sound and his versatility on the left side will help both our offence and defence. Having already played a season in India, he has become accustomed to the level of competition in the Hero ISL. He was a vital member of the Hyderabad FC squad last season, and I am sure that his impressive workrate will benefit us immensely.”
Born in Las Palmas, Borja rose through the youth ranks of his hometown clubs UD Las Palmas and Huracan before making his senior professional debut for CF Union Viera in Tercera Division during the 2012-13 season.
Later, the experienced midfielder went on to play for a host of Spanish clubs such as CD Tudelano, Las Palmas B, Las Palmas’ first team, Real Valladolid, Reus, Albacete, FC Andorra, Unionistas de Salamanca CF and UD Tamaraceite.
Borja represented Las Palmas in La Liga during the 2017-18 season. He also spent a season in Israel while representing the Israeli Premier League club Maccabi Netanya in 2019.