Transfer wrap: Mumbai City FC sign Greg Stewart; FC Goa rope in Noah Sadaoui; Ivan Kaliuzhnyi joins Kerala Blasters FC

Mumbai City FC have completed the signing of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 Hero of the League, Greg Stewart, from Jamshedpur FC on a two-year deal that keeps him at the club until May 2024, the club announced the signing through their social media handles, on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old was the cynosure of Jamshedpur FC’s League Winners’ Shield triumph in the 2021-22 campaign – his first foray outside Great Britain. Stewart was directly involved in 20 out of the 43 goals registered by Jamshedpur (10 goals and 10 assists) and was the leading assist maker last season. The versatile footballer was also voted as the ‘Hero of the League’ in his debut Hero ISL campaign.

Born in Stirling, Scotland, Stewart started his youth career first at the Rangers’ Academy followed by the Heart of Midlothian youth set up before he went on to make his senior debut for Cowdenbeath, spending four seasons at the club. He then joined Dundee FC in 2014 in a pivotal career move, making the shortlist for the PFA Scotland Players' Player of the Year award twice in row in 2015 and 2016.

In 2016, he moved to English Championship club Birmingham City, where he also enjoyed loan spells at Aberdeen and Kilmarnock.

After spending three seasons in Birmingham, Stewart eventually secured a move to Rangers in 2019, where he was a key member of Steven Gerrard’s squad. His contributions helped Ranger’s secure a historic Scottish Premiership title in the 2020-21 season.

“I’m delighted to be here at Mumbai City. The club outlined their plans and their ambitions right from the outset and I believe joining Mumbai City is the right step forward to continue my journey in India. The club and the coach Des Buckingham intend to build on what was a momentous season for Mumbai City last time out, including a strong performance in the AFC Champions League, and I believe we can add to the success the club has enjoyed in the recent past,” said Stewart after putting pen to paper.

“Having experienced the ISL up and close for a season now, I believe we’ve got a young but strong and competent squad. I am eager to get on with pre-season, meet my new teammates and make some fantastic memories with the club and the people that make the club, especially our fans,” he added.

“Greg is a hugely talented player who has demonstrated this on many occasions last season and to be able to bring him into our group is something I am very excited about. He is able to play as a forward as well as a more attacking midfield player, not only bringing people into the game around him but equally able to turn games in key moments by himself. With his vast experience, Greg knows what it takes to be successful and I am confident he will play an important role around the young squad here and at Mumbai City in the near future,” expressed Des Buckingham, head coach of Mumbai City FC, on the new signing.

FC Goa land Morrocan international Noah Sadaoui on a multi-year deal

The Gaurs have secured the services of Moroccan international Noah Sadaoui on a two-year contract which keeps him at the club until the end of the 2023-24 season, the club announced the signing through their social media handles, on Tuesday.

“I’m pleased to begin the next phase of my career with FC Goa. The Club are not new to me, we’ve been speaking to each other for nearly two years now, and I’ve used this time to follow them and their performances in the Indian Super League, Durand Cup and so on,” Sadaoui said to fcgoa.in after signing on the dotted line.

“What really got me wanting to sign with FC Goa was their hunger to win matches and trophies. It was quite evident in the videos of the team playing that I watched. Later, I spoke to the head coach (Carlos Pena) and he made me feel welcome.

“I had offers from clubs in other countries as well, but when the coach himself had a chat with me and made it clear that he believes in my abilities, it gave me the confidence to decide that I’m joining them,” he further added.

Ravi Puskur, FC Goa’s Director of Football also shared his thoughts on the player. He said, “Noah is another product of the extensive scouting work we do throughout the years. He’s somebody we were very interested in a few years ago and have always maintained that interest. This year, when the opportunity opened up, we pushed hard to ensure we got him on board.

“Noah’s an x-factor player who is more than capable of the unpredictable and can play anywhere across the front line. He has a natural eye for goal and his movements to create space will make him a real handful for defenders this year. With Noah’s arrival adding to that of Alvaro and Iker, we have a truly dynamic front line that has the capacity to excite our fans.”

Noah Sadaoui is the club’s fourth foreign signing for the 2022-23 season, following Alvaro Vazquez, Fares Arnaout and Iker Guarrotxena.

Sadaoui has so far made four appearances for the Moroccan National Team, starting in both the semi-finals and the final of the 2020 African Nations Championship, helping Morocco to the crown.

Born in Morocco, Sadaoui took his baby steps into football at the youth ranks of Wydad Casablanca, one of the biggest clubs in the country. At the age of 11, he emigrated to the USA with his family and went on to join the academy of Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls.

The forward began his senior career with Israeli Premier League club Maccabi Haifa. Stints at Liga Leumit (Israeli second-tier) outfits Hapoel Kfar Saba and Hapoel Nazareth Illit followed, before he moved to South Africa to join Ajax Cape Town (currently known as Cape Town Spurs).

Cape Town Spurs gave Sadaoui his first taste of silverware, as he helped them win the 2015 MTN 8, South Africa’s biggest cup competition thanks to his three goals in three matches.

His next destination was Miami United, with whom he won the 2016 National Premier Soccer League.

The 28-year-old then went on to feature for Real CD Espana (Honduras), Al-Kaburah and Mirbat SC (both Oman), ENPPI SC (Egypt), MC Oujda, Raja Casablanca and AS FAR Rabat (all Morocco).

Kerala Blasters sign Ukrainian midfielder Ivan Kaliuzhnyi on loan

Kerala Blasters FC have struck a loan deal with Ukrainian midfielder Ivan Kaliuzhnyi who joins the Blasters from FK Oleksandriya ahead of the upcoming Hero ISL season, the club announced the signing through their social media handles, on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old midfielder started his youth career with Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv. He then joined Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kyiv and represented them in the UEFA Youth League. His senior career started with a loan stint at Metalist 1925 Kharkiv, for whom he played 27 times in his first season. The next season saw him gain more experience on loan at Ukrainian side Rukh Lviv where he made 32 appearances and scored 2 goals.

Following consistent performances in the first division of Ukraine as an energetic and all-round midfielder, in February 2021, he was transferred to FK Oleksandriya. He continued his good form with the club, contributing 4 assists and 2 goals in 23 appearances. Prior to joining the Blasters, with the Ukrainian league suspended, Kaliuzhnyi had a brief loan stint at Iceland top division side Keflavik IF.

Commenting on the Blaster’s third foreign signing of the summer Sporting Director Karolis Skinkys said “I would like to congratulate Ivan for joining our club and express my big happiness that we finally were able to bring him to Kerala. This quality player will be a good reinforcement for our team. I hope Ivan will adapt quickly and showcase all the qualities we know he possesses to excel here.”

“I am excited to join the biggest club in India and very much looking forward to my new challenge. I am beyond excited to meet the famous yellow army and give my all for them and the club ” said an excited Ivan Kaliuzhnyi

Ivan Kaliuzhnyi becomes KBFC’s third foreign signing of the summer after striker Apostolos Giannou and defender Victor Mongil were announced in the last week. Ivan Kaliuzhnyi will add another dimension to the Blasters midfield as they prepare for the upcoming Hero ISL 2022/23 season.

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