East Bengal are in talks with agents of ex-Portugal star Nuno Gomes and South Africa defender Matthew Booth for this season. With Ariel Ortega reportedly being on Dempo's radar, negotiating with former World Cup stars seems to be the current buzz in Indian football.
Neither is likely to come cheap and that would be the biggest impediment to buying ageing stars like Japanese clubs did in the early days of the J-League, a competition not much older than India's national league which started in 95-96.
An Uruguayan agent is said to be negotiating with East Bengal and a source at the club said Gomes alone could cost
Rs 7 crore. The Uruguayan agent has also offered Ecuador international Ivan Kaviedes and Honduras's Carlos Pavon. East Bengal officials refused to confirm or deny this to HT.
The source said a South African agent has offered Booth and central midfielder Jabu Mahlangu, 30, who has had problems with alcohol and drugs. All the others players could be in the range of Rs 2.5- 3crore, the source said. East Bengal's football budget for last season was approximately Rs 8.5 crore.
Striker Gomes, who turns 35 on Tuesday, played for Portugal from 1996-2009. He played in the 2004 European Championship final, which Portugal lost to Greece and was also in the team that finished third in Europe in 2000. Gomes was also part of the World Cup squad that finished fourth in the 2006 finals in Germany.
Booth, 34, was in the Bafana Bafana squad for the 2010 finals which South Africa hosted but didn't get a game. He was part of the Olympic squad in 2000.
Honduras forward Pavon, 37, has played for Serie A clubs Udinese and Napoli and Real Valladolid in Spain. According to reports on the internet, Pavon is now with Honduras club Real C.D. Espana. His national career spanned 17 years and he is Ecuador's highest scorer with 56 international goals.
Kaviedes, 33, too is a striker and a current Ecuador international. In 2000-01, his scissors-kick strike against Barcelona while playing for Valladolid was adjudged Goal of the Year. He now plays for Macara in Ecuador and has played in the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.