Transfer Wrap: Kerala Blasters FC’s Adrian Luna signs contract extension; Hyderabad FC sign defender Soyal Joshy

Adrian Luna’s magic continues in the Hero Indian Super League for another season as the Blasters’ talisman signed a two-year contract extension which keeps him at the club until 2024, the club confirmed his signing through their social media handles, on Friday.

The Uruguayan midfielder was highly influential in the Tuskers’ road to the Hero ISL 2021-22 final, registering a phenomenal six goals and seven assists in the Hero ISL 2021-22 season.

Luna also forged a symbiotic relationship with head coach Ivan Vukomanovic as not only did he become a first-choice midfielder but was also handed the armband due to his leadership skills, replacing an injured Jessel Carneiro.

“I am thrilled to be part of the Yellow Army and honoured to have renewed my contract with KBFC. My first experience in Kerala has been remarkable and I believe my next two years with the club will be tremendous. I hope to give my best performance in each game and to get the best for the team in the coming season," said Luna after putting pen to paper.

The 34-year-old also became the club’s leading assist provider with seven assists in his kitty in the Hero ISL 2021-22, overtaking Jessel Carneiro, Sahal Abdul Samad, and Josu.

Luna’s energetic on-pitch display alongside his sensational attacking prowess made him a fan sensation amongst the Kerala Blasters faithful. Ranking high on tackles and touches, the midfielder was a cut above the rest for his sensational free-kicks and out of the box worldies. A breakthrough performance in almost every game earned him a berth in the Hero ISL team of the year.

As I said last season, Adrian fits perfectly in the club and is one of the most valuable players in ISL. He has a great personality and he is a player who brought something special to our team. We are all delighted about his extension," said Kerala Blasters FC’s head coach Ivan Vukomanovic.

Hyderabad FC sign defender Soyal Joshy

Filling up the void left by Asish Rai in the right-back position, Hero Indian Super League champions Hyderabad FC have completed the signing of right-back Soyal Joshy on a multi-year deal which commits the player to the club until the end of the 2024-25 season, the club announced the signing through their social media handles, on Saturday.

“It is definitely a very exciting moment for my professional development to be joining the ISL champions Hyderabad FC,” said Soyal, after signing his contract.

“I would like to thank Hyderabad FC coaches and management for their trust in me and I am looking forward to joining my new teammates in the preseason,” he added.

Born and brought up in Kerala, Soyal started out with Prodigy Sportz and Don Bosco Football Academy as early as an 11-year-old. He has risen through the ranks over the years, playing an array of tournaments across all age groups.

A right-back by trait, Soyal joined Golden Threads FC and played a crucial role in pushing the side to the 2021-22 Kerala Premier League trophy, bagging two goals from right-back.

He also won the 2021-22 Santosh Trophy with the Kerala state team where he was a regular in the first team gathering some valuable experience at a young age.

Soyal will get his first taste of the Indian Super League, with the Champions, as he is all set to train with the first team under Manolo Marquez ahead of the 2022-23 campaign.

The 20-year-old becomes the third domestic addition for Hyderabad FC, following the signings of Alex Saji and Manoj Mohammad.

Bengaluru FC increase squad depth with four new signings

The Blues have completed the signing of four new players in their bid to strengthen the core of the squad ahead of the upcoming 2022-23 season. Local boys Sudheer Kotikala and Ankith Padmanabhan, who represented Karnataka in their run to the Santosh Trophy semifinal, have signed two and three-year deals respectively. Joining them in the Blues’ roster are Clarence Fernandes and Felixson Conny Fernandes, who were scouted from the JSW Youth Cup, and have signed three-year deals.

Bengaluru-born Ankith, who has represented Young Challengers FC, Ozone FC Bengaluru and most recently Kickstart FC in the BDFA Super Division League, has previously been part of the Blues’ youth development program. A striker, Ankith’s six goals in eight games in the BDFA Super Division League were a deciding factor in the Blues’ acquisition of his services. Kotikala meanwhile, hails from Hubli, and scored nine goals for Kickstart FC in the 2020-21 BDFA Super Division League, and eight more in the Santosh Trophy, one short of the eventual top-scorer Jesin TK.

“We have had our scouts at several Santosh Trophy games these last few seasons, and Sudheer and Ankith’s names have come up as two of the brightest players, on multiple occasions. We believe that they have what it takes to develop and become potential first-team players for Bengaluru FC and as a club, it is important that we give the right opportunities to deserving local players as we look forward to the future,” said club CEO, Mandar Tamhane.

Through their recently concluded JSW Youth Cup, which was held in three different age groups at the JSW Township in Bellary, the Blues scouted two more youngsters in defenders Clarence Fernandes and Felixson Fernandes. While Clarence turned out for Dempo SC U18s, 19-year-old Felixson was in action for RF Young Champs and also played in the RF Development League, helping his side to a fifth place finish. He has previously represented the youth teams at Churchill Brothers and FC Goa.

“The JSW Youth Cup presented us the perfect opportunity to scout for talent, and I am glad that our coaches have used that platform to bring in two very talented youngsters in Clarence and Felixson. They were standout performers in their respective teams when we watched them, and I am sure that under the guidance of our youth coaches, they can take the next step and knock on the doors of our first team,” added Tamhane.

While the Blue Colts are off to the UK to take part in the PL Next Gen Cup by way of winning the RF Development League earlier this year, the Bengaluru FC first team are set to regroup for pre-season later this month, ahead of the 131st edition of the Durand Cup.

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