With a two-year contract worth Rs 20 lakh, Branco Vincent Cardozo was the highest-paid cadet from the Tata Football Academy (TFA) two years ago when Mohun Bagan signed him. At Sunday's convocation, Robin Singh became the most expensive footballer when East Bengal reportedly paid Rs 50 lakh for the player for two seasons.
If recession has hit Indian football, it certainly didn't show. The cadets have just turned 18-19 and all 18 were snapped by premier clubs. East Bengal alone invested close to Rs 1 crore on two players. They invested Rs 40 lakh on Raju Gaekwad and Rs 1.52 crore overall on five footballers.
“His (Robin's) scoring against East Bengal (in the 3-1 win) during the IFA Shield last year made him a favourite with East Bengal's spotters,” said a TFA official.
Robin, 19, is from Noida and plays as a striker. His favourite poacher is Fernando Torres. “It's a new challenge and I'm looking forward to the experience,” Robin said.
Gaekwad's long throws and his making the squad for the India U-19 and the SAF Games in Dhaka got him noticed, the official said.
Mumbai FC brought six players spending Rs 92 lakh. Salgaocar spent Rs 61 lakh and Mohun Bagan Rs 45 lakh.
Alberto Colaco, the AIFF general secretary and the guest of honour, advised the cadets to select clubs that gives them maximum opportunity to play and not join one which pays them well but makes them warm the bench.