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, with both being bought in excess of Rs one crore by Mumbai City FC and Pune City FC respectively, here today.
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 auctioner’s hammer in the first part of the process involving a total of 10 domestic players.