India football captain Sunil Chhetri and exciting central midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh led the bidding war at the first-ever player auction of the Indian Super League (ISL), with both being bought in excess of Rs 1 crore by Mumbai City FC and Pune City FC, respectively, in Mumbai on Friday.
Star striker Chhetri, who missed the first season of ISL as he was not released by his I-League club Bengaluru FC along with other club mates, was bought for Rs 1.2 crore by Mumbai City FC, Rs 40 lakh over and above his base price of Rs 80 lakh, in a surprisingly low-key bidding involving only two out of the eight teams - Mumbai City FC and Delhi Dynamos.
This was immediately preceded by an intense bidding war among six teams for I-League's top performer Lyngdoh, whose base price of Rs 27.50 lakh appeared to be far less than what he would fetch at the auction and it became true as he was bought for Rs 1.05 crore by Pune City FC, at more than three times his base price.
Goa FC, Kerala Blasters, North East United, defending champions Atletico de Kolkata, Mumbai City FC and Pune City fought for the right to bag the top midfielder before Pune clinched it with their winning bid.
The 31-year-old Sikkim-born and Delhi-based Chhetri, with 87 international caps under his belt, said he and the others who missed the first edition were excited to be part of the ISL.
"I have been playing for thirteen years and money is not my first priority," said Chhetri, when asked whether he was disappointed at the price he was bought for.
"I have played all over the world but have not played in Mumbai," he added.
"I just want to play football and did not think about the price," Lyngdoh said.
Three other players went under the auction hammer in the first part of the process involving a total of 10 domestic players.
Winger Jackichand Singh, of I-League team Royal Wahingdoh, was the first player to be bid for in a hot race featuring four teams and was finally won over by Pune City FC with a clinching bid of Rs 45 lakh, more than twice his base price of Rs 20 lakh.
Midfielder Thoi Singh, taking part as a free agent, was clinched by Chennayin FC for 86 lakh - his base price being Rs 39 lakh - after a hot fight between North East United and Mumbai City FC while defender Anas Edathodika was bought for Rs 41 lakh, just 1 lakh above his base price, by Delhi Dynamos in a lukewarm bidding effort.
Picks at a glance
# Jackichand Singh (base price Rs 20 lakh) bought for Rs 45 lakh by Pune City FC
# Thoi Singh (Rs 39 lakh) bought for Rs 86 lakh by Chennayin FC
# Anas Edathodika (Rs 40 lakh) bought for Rs 41 lakh by Delhi Dynamos
# Eugeneson Lyngdoh (27.50 lakh) bught for Rs 1.05 crore by Pune City FC
# Sunil Chhetri (Rs 80 lakh) bought for Rs 1.20 crore by Mumbai City FC