Mumbai: Star striker Sunil Chhetri was the costliest buy at Rs 1.20 crore at the first-ever Indian Super League's auction featuring 10 domestic football players here on Friday, with Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Rino Anto surprisingly fetching amounts far above their base prices.
Chhetri, 31, was bought at Rs 40 lakh above his base price of Rs 80 lakh by Mumbai City FC, adding teeth to their attack as the India skipper would play alongside former French international Nicholas Anelka up front.
Exciting central midfielder Lyngdoh, among the star performers in last season's I-League for Bengaluru FC, went to Pune City FC for Rs 1.05 crore ? which was more than three times his base price of Rs 27.50 lakh after six teams were involved in an intense bidding war to get his services.
The first two were sold in the first part of the two-stage auction process while defender Anto was successfully bid and bought for Rs 90 lakh by last year's tournament winners Atletico de Kolkata, which was more than five times his base price of Rs 17.50 lakh. Anto had the lowest base prize in the 10-player auction.
Another player who fetched a much higher price, more than twice his base price of Rs 39 lakh, was midfielder Thoi Singh, taking part as a free agent, who was sold to Chennayin FC for 86 lakh after a hot fight with North East United and Mumbai City.
Winger Jackichand Singh, of I-League team Royal Wahingdoh, was the first player to be bid for in the auction that saw a hot race featuring four teams and was finally won by Pune City FC with a clinching bid of Rs 45 lakh -- more than twice his base price of Rs 20 lakh.
Central medio Arata Izumi (base price Rs 40 lakh) was clinched by ATK for Rs 68 lakh, striker Robin Singh (base price Rs 40 lakh) went to Delhi Dynamos for Rs 51 lakh while winger Seityasen Singh (base price Rs 20 lakh) was successfully bid for by North East United for Rs 56 lakh.
Defender Anas Edathodika was bought for Rs 41 lakh, just one lakh above his base price, by Delhi Dynamos in a lukewarm bidding, while Chennayin FC were the lone bidders to buy the services of goalkeeper Karanjeet Singh at his base prize of Rs 60 lakh. Karanjeet had the second-best base prize at the auction.
While Atletico, Chennayin, Pune, Delhi secured two players each, Mumbai and North East bought one each while Goa FC and Kerala Blasters were unsuccessful at picking any player at the auction.
Chhetri, the poster boy of Indian football 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, in a surprisingly low-key bidding involving only two out of the eight teams - Mumbai 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 Sikkim-born and Delh-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 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.
A total amount of Rs 7.22 crore was spent by the ISL franchisees at the auction. Each of these clubs has been provided with a salary cap of Rs 15.50 crore to be spent on their overseas signings and in the 10-player auction.
All the 10 players, who had missed the inaugural season of the tournament last year owning to individual contracts with their respective I-League clubs, had shown keen interest to be part of the League's Season 2 commencing on October 3 and ending on December 6.
Six of these 10 players -- Chhetri, Robin Singh, Thoi Singh, Arata Izumi, Edathodika and Karanjeet -- had signed with Football Sports Development Limited, the promoters of Hero ISL, as free agents, prior to the auction.
Singh and Seityasen Singh have been loaned from I- League club Royal Wahingdoh FC while Rino Anto and Eugeneson Lyngdoh are loaned from Bengaluru FC.
Additionally, an extensive list of 112 Indian players have been made available to eight franchise club owners through the Player Draft, which is also to be held on Friday.
The eight franchises have 64 Indian players on their roster - either retained from last year or signed from the open market.
The comprehensive Draft list would help them to fill up a total of 40 positions of the Indian player quota.
Auction picks at a glance: Jackichand Singh (base price Rs 20 Lakh) bought for Rs 45 lakh by Pune City FC, Thoi Singh (Rs 39 lakh) bought for Rs 86 lakh by Chennayin FC, Anas Edathodika (Rs 40 lakh) bought for Rs 41 lakh by Delhi Dynamos, Eugeneson Lyngdoh (27.50 lakh) bought for Rs 1.05 crore by Pune City FC, Sunil Chetri (Rs 80 lakh) bought for Rs 1.20 crore by Mumbai City FC.
Arata Izumi (Rs 40 lakh) bought for Rs 68 lakh by Atletico de Kolkata, Robin Singh (Rs 40 lakh) bought for Rs 51 lakh by Delhi Dynamos, Karanjeet Singh (Rs 60 lakh) bought for Rs 60 lakh by Chennayin FC, Rino Anto (Rs 17.50 lakh) bought for Rs 90 lakh by Atletico de Kolkata, Seityasen Singh (Rs 20 lakh) bought for Rs 56 lakh by North East United.