Winger Lallianzuala Chhangte feels he gave wings to his career by completing a six-month loan deal from Chennaiyin FC to "best choice" Mumbai City FC in a unique move during the winter transfer window.
There was drama as Chhangte, who is in his final year of contract with former Indian Super League (ISL) champion Chennaiyin FC, had to wait until the final day of the transfer window to learn about his future.
"I thought a lot about making this move and I've been discussing it with my family and my agent. I believe this was the answer to my prayers because I wasn't sure if this move would go through, but on the final day of the transfer window, I heard the good news that the club had allowed me to go.
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"I want to thank Chennaiyin FC and of course my new club Mumbai City FC for making this possible," Chhangte told.
Both Mumbai City and Chennaiyin have played smartly while negotiating the deal. Chennaiyin did not risk losing the player for free when his contract expires in the summer as Mumbai City is paying Chennaiyin an undisclosed loan fee reportedly to be around Rs 1.2 crore, half of which is believed to cover the player's wages.
Interestingly, this transfer helped both the clubs utilise the loan system, fees of which are not counted in the ISL salary cap of Rs 16.5 crore.
Ahead of the season, ISL organisers FSDL had highlighted and encouraged clubs to make use of the best practices in the transfer market by structuring such deals that would help clubs attract the best talent.
While there is no pre-contract that has been agreed upon, it is believed Mumbai City will aggressively lure Chhangte to stay put after the loan stint. Going by Chhangte's words, the player seems keen too.
The judgment was simple for Chhangte, who regarded Mumbai City FC as the 'best choice' for his career.
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"Mumbai City are the champions and that is a huge factor in coming here. They are a club with the ambition of being at the highest level and coming to Mumbai City was the best choice for me to develop in the future as a player and a person.
"Of course, being a part of a club that is connected globally will help me progress well and it could also give me a possibility to play outside India if I perform well too," Chhangte expressed on the opportunity.
Chhangte also has one eye on the AFC Champions League, where Mumbai City is drawn to face Al Jazira of the UAE, Saudi Arabia's Al-Shabab, and Air Force Club of Iraq in April.
"Playing in the most prestigious club tournament in Asia is a very big thing and it's the first time Mumbai City FC will be participating as well. It will be a huge step in my career knowing that we will be representing the whole country and I wanted to be a part of history.
"The target will always be to win every game we play but we are going to be up against the best clubs in Asia and I'm ready for the challenge," said Chhangte.