Indian Super League (ISL) outfit East Bengal FC announced the signing of French playmaker Madih Talal on a two-year contract that will run until the end of the 2025-26 season.

The French playmaker, who was the top assist-provider in the last ISL season, joins ISL 2023-24 Golden Boot winner Dimitrios Diamantakos, Kalinga Super Cup 2024 top scorer Cleiton Silva, and Durand Cup 2023 Golden Boot winner David Lalhlansanga to strengthen the Red and Gold Brigade’s attacking line.

Welcoming Talal to East Bengal FC, Mr Vibhash Vardhan Agarwal said, “Talal was the best playmaker in last season’s ISL, and we are delighted to bring him on board. He will join forces with Diamantakos, Cleiton (Silva), David (Lalhlansanga), Mahesh (Naorem Singh), Nandhakumar (Sekar), Vishnu (PV), Sayan (Banerjee) and Aman (CK) to bolster our attack. We are glad to have cracked this crucial deal.”

East Bengal FC head coach Carles Cuadrat commented, “Talal has been one of the top foreigners to make an impact in their debut ISL season. His talent greatly enhanced his team’s attack, due to which he not only recorded the most assists in the league but also scored a good number of goals. After a few conversations, Talal prioritized East Bengal FC over other ISL clubs, knowing how important he is going to be for our new project.”

Since making his foray into Indian football in August last year, Talal has featured in each of Punjab FC’s 22 ISL and three Kalinga Super Cup fixtures, accumulating 1,910 minutes of playing time across both competitions. One of the youngest active foreigners in the ISL, the 26-year-old contributed either a goal or an assist in five of Punjab’s six ISL victories last season.

Besides scoring six goals and setting the record for the most assists (10) in ISL 2023-24, Talal logged two assists in the Kalinga Super Cup. Displaying his exceptional ball control and agility, the Frenchman also topped the list for the most dribbles completed (42) in ISL 2023-24. Talal’s creative quality is also indicated by the fact that he created the second-most chances (57) in last season’s ISL.

Before moving to India, Talal represented several clubs across Europe, including France’s Amiens SC, Entente SSG, Red Star FC, and US Avranches, Spain’s Las Rozas CF, and Greece’s A.E. Kifisia.

Thrilled to join East Bengal FC, Talal said, “East Bengal FC’s contribution to Indian football is immense, and I am honoured to commit my future to this legendary club. I am very excited to meet my new teammates and the incredible fans who make this club special.”

Chennaiyin FC announce the arrival of Lalrinliana Hnamte

Indian Super League (ISL) club Chennaiyin FC have roped in young, talented central midfielder Lalrinliana Hnamte ahead of the 2024-25 season.

The 21-year-old has signed a three-year contract with the Marina Machans, becoming the third midfielder to join the club this summer after Lukas Brambilla and Jitendra Singh. Chennaiyin FC also handed a contract extension to Yumkhaibam Jiteshwor Singh last month.

The Mizoram-born Hnamte has been considered one of the brightest talents in Indian football. He made his ISL debut at the age of just 18 for East Bengal FC in 2021.

Welcoming Hnamte to the club, head coach Owen Coyle commented: “With the ability he possesses, we haven't seen as much of Hnamte as we should've in the league. He's a fantastic young boy who will offer something different to our midfield options."

Before joining Chennaiyin FC, Hnamte was part of the Mohun Bagan Super Giant set-up for three seasons. He won the Durand Cup (2023), the ISL title (2023) and the League Shield (2024) for them. 

"I’m very excited and grateful to be part of this amazing club, and I can’t wait to play in front of the fans. I will give absolutely everything I have to help this team win,” Hnamte expressed his excitement after joining the two-time ISL champions.

Hnamte has made 43 appearances in the ISL, spending more than 1300 minutes on the field. In the last season of the league, he recorded an impressive passing accuracy of 83 per cent in 13 matches. 

Hnamte has also scored two goals so far in his professional career, one of which came against Chennaiyin FC in his debut ISL season.

With Coyle at the helm, Chennaiyin FC have strategically revamped their squad for the upcoming season with 11 new signings so far, and they have also extended the contracts of four players, including Ryan Edwards, Connor Shields, Jiteshwor Singh, and Samik Mitra.

Nora Fernandes joins Kerala Blasters FC on a multi-year deal

Indian Super League (ISL) side Kerala Blasters FC announced the arrival of goalkeeper Nora Fernandes, who puts pen to paper on a 3-year contract until 2027.

Prior to joining the Blasters, Fernandes was with I-League side Aizawl FC. In what can be considered a breakthrough season, the 25-year-old goalkeeper made 17 appearances, impressing with his commanding presence in the penalty area, his strong reflexes, and his overall shot-stopping abilities.

Born in Goa, Fernandes started his youth and professional career at Salgaocar FC, having joined their U18 team. He represented them in the U18 I-League, and the Goa Professional League before making the switch to Churchill Brothers in 2020. Between 2020 and 2023, the talented goalkeeper made 12 appearances. While the talent and raw ability were clear throughout, it was Aizawl FC who first spotted the potential, ultimately giving him a chance as first-choice goalkeeper in the 2023-24 I-League season.

“Fernandes’ inclusion is based on his consistent performances, natural ability, and commanding physique in front of the goal. We had a task to reinforce (the) goalkeeper position, and we see potential in Fernandes to give us depth in this position,” said Kerala Blasters FC’s sporting director, Karolis Skinkys.

“I’m proud and excited to join a club like Kerala Blasters FC. I’m really looking forward to my first ISL season, and I’m determined to give my best and perform to the highest of my abilities,” Nora Fernandes remarked.

Nora Fernandes becomes the Blasters’ fourth domestic signing of the summer, as well as the second goalkeeper signing in the summer after Som Kumar. Fernandes’ addition will further strengthen and deepen the first-team goalkeeping unit, which also includes Sachin Suresh.

Jamshedpur FC sign goalkeeper Amrit Gope

Indian Super League (ISL) club Jamshedpur FC have acquired the services of local young goalkeeper Amrit Gope on a one-plus-two-year deal, adding depth to their goalkeeping lineup.

Standing at an impressive 6 feet 4 inches, Gope is a familiar face to the club's fans, having been part of the Jamshedpur FC Reserves during the 2018-19 season, where he made 12 appearances in the 2nd Division I-League.

Ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, Gope was promoted to the senior team, becoming part of the Men of Steel’s ISL squad. His career then saw him move to TRAU, where he made 16 appearances over two successful seasons in the I-League. In view of his impressive performances, he was signed by Bengaluru FC.

On his return to Jamshedpur FC, Amrit Gope expressed his joy and commitment, stating, "This is my soil, and I am overwhelmed with happiness and pride to represent Jharkhand in the ISL. I am determined to give my all this season, striving to deliver my best performance for the team and bring even more happiness to the people of Jharkhand. I feel incredibly lucky to be playing under the guidance of head coach Khalid Jamil. He is among the finest coaches in India, and I am confident that his expertise and mentorship will enhance my performance."

Head coach Khalid Jamil shared his enthusiasm about the signing, saying, "Amrit Gope is an excellent addition to our team, enhancing the depth of our goalkeeping squad. Being a local talent, he embodies our vision of integrating more players from Jharkhand into the team. His inclusion strengthens our lineup, and now he needs to work hard day and night to cement his place in the starting lineup and perform."