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Gurpreet Singh Sandhu set to be most expensive Indian in ISL 4

football Updated: Aug 17, 2017 23:49 IST
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu,bengaluru FC,Indian Football Team

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, first Indian to play in UEFA Europa League, will play for Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League.(HT Photo)

Time will tell whether Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s Europe sojourn is over for good but by signing him, Bengaluru FC have got a top-notch goalie without compromising on their quota of foreigners for the fourth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL).

Sandhu’s three-year deal with Norway’s Stabaek FC was scheduled to end this year and he is now the first Indian for whom an Indian club paid a transfer fee to a European club. It’s a record that could stay for some time.

Bengaluru FC didn’t disclose the transfer amount. Sandhu’s salary too hasn’t been made public but given that he is India’s No. 1 goalie and the only Indian to have played in a Europa League match, it is likely to be in the top bracket.

That means he could be paid between Rs 1.2-Rs 1.5 crore for this season. Top that up with the transfer fee and Sandhu, 25, could be the most expensive Indian in ISL4.

READ | Keeper Gurpreet Sandhu expects great things from India’s Under-17 squad

The Bengaluru FC media officer didn’t return calls from Hindustan Times seeking a reaction on this.

Four clubs in fray

Hindustan Times has learnt that at least four clubs including Bengaluru FC were trying for Sandhu, who became the first Indian to play in the top tier of a league in Europe when he joined Stabaek FC in 2014. One was trying to get a club in Spain to buy Sandhu and then take him on loan for ISL4. Another was ready to offer a five-year deal but the prospect of playing in the AFC Cup could have got Sandhu to sign for Bengaluru FC.

“With BFC playing on the continental level this season as well as the next one will provide the perfect platform for me,” Sandhu was quoted as saying in a media release on Thursday.

“While the experience of playing in Europe was fantastic, lack of game time was an important factor in making the decision of moving back to India… The need to play regularly ahead of the AFC Asian Cup in 2019 was something that was on my mind,” said Sandhu, who reached Bangalore on Thursday and is available for the AFC Cup inter-zonal semi-final against North Korea’s April 25 SC.

READ | Gurpreet Singh Sandhu hails overseas scouting programme for U-17 World Cup

This though contradicts Sandhu’s earlier stand. “I believe playing in Europe is a better choice because it is going to help me become a better player and help India if Indian players are to motivate themselves to be at that level. That’s where we want to be, and not playing in India,” he had told Hindustan Times last September. For now, he joins Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri whose stints in Europe were ordinary.

But the deal is a steal for Bengaluru FC. Because Sandhu can now be among the reserves for ISL4. And, according to the rules, because he is a goalie he won’t have to wait out five rounds before he is eligible to be a replacement. Before Sandhu joined, Abhra Mondal, Calvin Abhishek and Lalthuammawia Ralte were the club’s shot-stoppers.

MOST EXPENSIVE INDIANS IN ISL 4

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (Bengaluru FC): Rs1.5-1.8 crore (including transfer fee)

Sunil Chhetri (Bengaluru FC): Rs1.5 crore.

Jeje Lalpekhlua (Chennaiyin FC): Rs1.4 crore.

Sandesh Jhingan (Kerala Blasters): Rs1.3 crore

Amrinder Singh (Mumbai City FC): Rs1.2 crore

Eugeneson Lyngdoh (ATK): Rs1.1 crore.

CK Vineeth (Kerala Blasters): Rs1 crore.

(All figures are approximations)

First Published: Aug 17, 2017 23:19 IST