AT LONG LAST, FC Pune City have signed their first foreigner ahead of the second season of the Indian Super League.
In the run-up to the much awaited ISL Domestic Players' Draft and Auction, most teams had signed foreign players from the open market. Many even had their marquee signings done and dusted. But FC Pune City, under the management of David Platt, chose not to venture oversees. Instead they focused on acquiring some domestic players from the open market, and bide their time. Their spectacular entry into the transfer market was marked by their performance in the Auction, where they secured the services of the country's fan-favourite players Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Jackichand Singh. Now that the domestic player set-up is mostly done with, Pune City have turned their eyes overseas, and they have started with Costa Rican striker Yendrick Alberto Ruiz Gonzalez.
Yendrick came up the youth ranks of his country's Premier Division side Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, along with his brother Bryan Ruiz. Bryan went off to play for Fulham in the English Premier League. Yendrick, however, continued his development in Costa Rica at Brujas FC. He did not become a regular starter until he went to Puntarenas FC, a club in Costa Rica's Second Division. Over the 2011-12 season he appeared 36 times for them, slotting in 13 goals. His performances earned him a ticket back to the top-flight league, as Club Sport Herediano, recently under a new ownership, signed him in 2012. It was at Herediano that Yandrick rose to prominence, becoming an integral part of the squad that broke almost two decades of dominance by the four big clubs of Costa Rica, as Herediano claimed multiple Premier Division league titles in quick succession and managed to leave their mark in the continental level, going as far as the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League. Quite popular with the fans at his club, Yendrick has appeared in 100 professional matches for Herediano, scoring 43 goals along the way.
In the meantime, Yendrick also debuted for the Costa Rica national team, for whom he has made 5 appearacnes till date.
Still quite fresh at 27, it might be said that Yendrick has some of his best footballing years ahead of him. He is swift, can use his almost 6-foot stature to win aerial duels, and his cool, clinical finishing can be lethal when set ahead of a midfield consisting of Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Jackichand Singh and Lenny Rodriguez.
It's not clear whether Yendrick will be Platt's first choice up front. Indeed, FC Pune City will sign a number of foreign players in the coming few weeks, including their marquee player for the season. But the recruitment of a player of Yendrick's calibre surely suggests a well thought-out course of action on Pune City's part, the best of which is yet to be revealed.