Hero Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Mohun Bagan Super Giant have secured the signature of midfielder Anirudh Thapa from Chennaiyin FC, on a five-year deal, the club announced the signing through their social media handles on Friday. The midfielder joins the Kolkata-based club after spending seven illustrious years with the Marina Machans.
“I am extremely delighted to have the opportunity to play for the reigning Hero ISL champions. The green and maroon jersey holds tremendous influence over Indian football. I am eagerly looking forward to wearing this jersey. I am determined to give my best and make the supporters happy,” stated Thapa after signing on the dotted line for his new club.
On being revealed as a Mohun Bagan Super Giant player, Thapa opened up on his transfer and revealed that it was his dream to play for the Green and Maroons in front of the thousands of supporters at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.
“Kolkata is the hub of Indian football. My dream of playing in this city will finally be fulfilled. I’ve heard about the derby game ever since I started playing football. Whenever I was in Kolkata, whether it was for the Indian Arrows or national youth level camps in Kalyani, I used to travel to the Yuba Bharati Krirangan to watch the derby match,” Thapa expressed.
“Everyone used to say that one must be a star to play in the derby game. Now, that dream is about to come true. I still can’t believe that I will get to play in front of thousands and thousands of supporters, who will come with their flags and banners to cheer for me and the team,” he further added.
A graduate from the AIFF Elite Academy, Thapa joined Chennaiyin FC in 2016, a year after the side were crowned as the champions of the Hero ISL. The midfielder’s debut season, however, was short-lived as he made just one appearance, but got off the mark as he provided an assist in his only match.
The subsequent seasons saw the then 19-year-old establishing his authority in the midfield and cementing his place in the team. The central midfielder played a determining role in his side’s second Hero ISL title triumph in the 2017-18 season. Known for his vision of supplying the ball into the final third, Thapa netted two goals and provided one assist in their title-winning campaign.
His distinct gamestyle made him a cornerstone in the midfield, capable of playing different roles in the midfield over the course of several seasons under multiple coaches thereafter. Furthermore, the midfielder became a poster boy of the side and etched his name in the hearts of the Chennaiyin FC faithful.
Thapa’s peak performance for Chennaiyin FC came under Scottish head coach Owen Coyle, with the midfielder providing six assists and netting one goal in the 2019-20 season where the side made a miraculous upturn in the second half of the season and reached the finals. The Dehradun-born player registered the second-most number of assists by any Indian player, behind only FC Goa’s Brandon Fernandes that season (8).
The midfielder also proved his mettle on the international stage in 2019 when Chennaiyin FC took on Manansang Marsyang and Minerva Punjab in the AFC Cup where Thapa provided an assist in each of those games.
Amassing 125 appearances over six years in the blue of Chennaiyin FC, Thapa is the Marina Machan’s highest capped player, having scored 12 goals and supplied 17 assists in his time at Chennaiyin FC.
Taking on the international stage yet again with Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the AFC Cup, Thapa will look to prove himself as the differential in the team and guide the team to success on the continental stage.
“I have experienced numerous international victories while playing for the national team. Now, I aspire to secure triumphs at the club level with MBSG. Winning the AFC Cup will be challenging. There are many hurdles, but I feel we should take it as a challenge and aim to finish in a commendable position,” Thapa said.
With a new manager taking charge, the Chennai-based club will look to solidify the void left by Thapa and find an adequate replacement for the upcoming 2023-24 season.