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Why Sahal Abdul Samad had to leave Kerala Blasters

Sahal Abdul Samad's move to Mohun Bagan SG came after a month-long saga involving other failed deals and KBFC's pursuit of Pritam Kotal. But some fans are concerned that Sahal was treated unfairly.

Why Sahal Abdul Samad had to leave Kerala Blasters

Sahal Abdul Samad has left Kerala Blasters after six years with the ISL team. (KBFC)


Aswathy Santhosh

Updated: 15 July 2023 8:04 AM GMT

Sahal Abdul Samad's transfer from Kerala Blasters to Mohun Bagan SG has sent shockwaves among fans of Kerala Blasters. As the longest-serving player for the club and their beloved poster boy, Sahal's departure marks the end of an era for the ISL side.

Sahal Abdul Samad, with 97 appearances for Kerala Blasters, was a player who seemed destined to spend the majority of his career with the club. Also being from Kerala, he had a special connection with the fans.

The unexpected transfer has left many supporters disheartened. Here's looking at all that happened behind the scenes over the last month:

The long transfer saga began with Kerala Blasters extending the contract of young defender Hormipam Ruivah on a five-year deal early in the summer window.

However, just weeks later, the club offered him to Mohun Bagan SG as part of a proposed deal to acquire their captain, Pritam Kotal. Kerala Blasters were willing to pay an additional fee to secure the services of the experienced defender, as they were in desperate need of a defensive reinforcement.

Unfortunately, the deal fell through as Mohun Bagan SG showed no interest in acquiring Hormipam Ruivah, and the young defender himself expressed his desire to stay at Kerala Blasters. This setback led Kerala Blasters to explore other options. Sahal Abdul Samad, a long-term target of Mohun Bagan SG, suddenly seemed like a viable option.

Despite receiving a lucrative offer from Mohun Bagan, Sahal expressed his strong desire to stay with Kerala Blasters. But despite his desire, the ball had started rolling.

Knowing Sahal's availability in the market, Bengaluru FC also expressed interest in signing him. Bengaluru FC offered around 2 crores and was even willing to include a player in the deal if necessary.

The amount of money BFC were offering was far more than what MBSG had offered. But Kerala Blasters' desperation to secure Pritam Kotal led to an agreement between the Kolkata and Kerala clubs.

The negotiations, spearheaded by Karolis Skinkys, the sporting director of Kerala Blasters, finally bore fruit as KBFC managed to land their top target, Pritam Kotal, a versatile defender known for his leadership abilities - sadly at the cost of an existing fan favourite.

Pritam Kotal's initial intention was to stay at Mohun Bagan SG, but a shift in his thought process occurred with the signing of Anwar Ali. Recognizing that his playing time might be limited due to increased competition, Kotal, who highly values regular game minutes, made the decision to pursue other opportunities. Kerala Blasters' offer presented an enticing offer that was difficult for him to refuse.

While the transfer fee received by the club, 90 lakhs, may be considered low, Kerala Blasters acquired a highly experienced defender in Pritam Kotal in exchange. Kotal's presence in the team is expected to provide stability and leadership at the back, which has been lacking in recent seasons.

Has KBFC been unfair to Samad?

Following Sahal's move, a lot of focus has been on the club's motivations in chasing the transfer deal.

Fans have expressed disappointment and frustration with the club's handling of Sahal's departure. They have pointed to instances when he was seemingly excluded or overlooked, raising questions about the club's treatment of their longest-serving player.

One notable incident was the player's exclusion from the matchday posters of the Indian national team. Furthermore, when Sahal got married recently, there was no public congratulatory message or well-wishes from Kerala Blasters.

This lack of acknowledgment raises questions about the level of support and appreciation the club had for their player, especially considering Sahal's stature within the team and his immense popularity among fans.

Ultimately, the success of a transfer deal is not solely measured by the amount of money involved but by the overall impact it has on the team's performance. Kerala Blasters' focus on strengthening their defense and securing a proven player in Pritam Kotal demonstrates their commitment to building a competitive and successful team, with the ultimate aim of achieving glory on the football field.

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