Mumbai City FC have extended the contract of midfielder Vinit Rai, IFTWC can confirm!
The 25-year-old has appeared in 19 games for the Islanders across all competitions this season. Despite playing in a deep midfield position, Vinit registered two goals to his name in the league. Coach Des Buckingham often preferred to play him as a left-back at times and he did exceptionally well there too showing the versatility in his game to adapt to any given position as per the requirement of the team.
Vinit had a passing accuracy percentage of 81.11% in the league this season along with a goal conversion rate of 40%. He also made as many as 24 tackles, 7 interceptions, 13 clearances, and blocks each, showing signs of his all-round ability to perform pleasingly anywhere.
Alongside having made close to 90 appearances in ISL, Vinit also has appeared in 7 matches for the India U23 team and 11 matches for the Indian Men’s senior national team. He made his debut for the India under-23 side on March 2015 against Uzbekistan in the 2016 AFC U23 Championship qualifiers. Almost a year later, he made his debut for the India senior side in their FIFA World Cup qualifier against Iran.
Brought up by a father who was a national-level sprinter, Vinit Rai’s footballing career started in Assam. Vinit was scouted by the Duliajan Football Academy and later on roped in by the infamous Tata Football Academy at the tender age of 13 and after graduating, earned his first professional contract with Goan side Dempo SC in 2014. He was picked by Kerala Blasters FC for ISL 2016 season and he played two games.
Next season though he was loaned out to the I-League side Minerva Punjab FC for six months. After that, a move to the ISL franchise Delhi Dynamos FC followed via a draft. The central midfielder hit the ground running and was brilliant for the Delhi team in ISL 2017/18 season.
After an underwhelming 2018-19 season with the Lions, Vinit represented Odisha FC (Delhi Dynamos FC relocated to Odisha) and made 15 appearances for them in the 2019-20 season. He also scored his first Hero ISL goal. Vinit featured heavily in Hero ISL 2020-21 too for the Juggernauts. Vinit went on to captain the side in the 21/22 season and played close to a combined 70 games for Delhi and the Odisha team.
In the 21/22 season winter transfer window he joined Mumbai City FC on a loan deal till the end of the season. In his loan stint, he got to feature in the AFC Champions League with the Islander. For the 22/23 season, his loan deal was extended for another year which allowed Mumbai City FC midfielder Raynier Fernandes to sign for Odisha FC for the same period. It was indeed a win-win situation for both clubs.
Vinit Rai suits coach Des’s philosophy of playing from the back. He can build attacks with his intricate long balls toward winger Chhangte or Bipin. Also, he is equally instrumental at the midfield or even in the defense as he is always looking to intercept all the opposition’s attacks.
Having him for next season will be a big boost for the Islanders as they have got a massive task in their hand to repeat their excellent form from this season in the upcoming one. 22/23 season ISL League Shield Winners Mumbai City FC who finished in the semi-finals of the ISL playoffs stage will look to even better domestically and also perform exceptionally well in the 2023 AFC Champions League Group Stages.
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