At approximately R 5.5 crore, former Uruguay striker Diego Forlan is likely to be Atletico de Kolkata’s (ATK) marquee player in the third edition of the Indian Super League (ISL). Should the deal be inked, Forlan, 37, is likely to be presented in Kolkata next month, HT has learnt. And going by last year’s estimates, he could cost Rs 1 crore more than Elano Blumer, the Chennaiyin FC marquee, who was the most expensive player in ISL2.
Presenting Forlan will be part of a two-month team promotion initiative by ATK which will also involve getting coach Jose Molina Jiminez to Kolkata in July. The squad will leave for pre-season training at Atletico Madrid in September. ISL3 will begin in October and continue till December.
Former Bayern Munich stars Michael Ballack and Roque Santa Cruz too are in the fray but Forlan, winner of the Golden Ball in the 2010 World Cup finals where Uruguay finished fourth, is said to be the frontrunner. He is likely to cost around Rs 1.5 crore more than what Helder Postiga, who was the team’s marquee last year, got, according to sources in the squad.
A team official said getting Forlan has been Atletico Madrid’s idea. The official requested anonymity because the contract has not yet been signed. “They (Atletico Madrid) have been dealing with him,” said the official.
Forlan played for Atletico Madrid from 2007-11 helping them win the Europa League in 2009-10 beating Fulham 2-1 in the final. Forlan scored both goals and was adjudged Man of the Match.
“It helps that Forlan is well known and that would help our marketing initiatives,” said the official with the Kolkata franchise. That’s something Atletico de Kolkata couldn’t exploit last term because marquee and Portugal international Helder Postiga played only 74 minutes in ISL 2 having been injured in the first match against Chennaiyin FC while scoring his second goal of the tournament opener.
Should he become the marquee, this will be Forlan’s second visit to Kolkata. He had come as a guest for a football reality show that also featured Brazil stars Romario and Branco within a month of the 2010 World Cup finals.
At 33, Postiga was the youngest marquee in ISL2. Paraguay international Santa Cruz is 34 and played eight years at Bayern Munich. He is currently with Olimpia Asuncion at home. Forlan doesn’t have a club yet, having announced last month that he would leave Penarol with whom he won the Uruguay league and scored eight goals in 31 games. Neither was part of the national team squads in last month’s Copa Centenario.
Valderrama likely to visit
Atletico de Kolkata are also planning a fan engagement with former Colombia legend Carlos Valderrama this month. Valderrama is likely to be in Kolkata as guest for a football match, the proceeds of which will go to charity. “Should it work out, we are looking to get Valderrama to spend a day with our fans,” said the official from ATK. Last year, ATK had got Pele to watch one of their ISL home games