After months of turmoil and uncertainty regarding their future, SC East Bengal has finally hit the ground running in the transfer market. Their first off-shore player is the Slovenian Amir Dervišević.
A lot has happened in the past month for the Red and Gold brigade, and their fans have finally been able to rejoice in the fresh excitement that comes with new signings and a pre-season that promises to kick off very soon.
The club officials have done a commendable job in signing the likes of Arindam Bhattacharya, Adil Khan, Jackichand Singh, and many others in a matter of days. After roping in their Indian recruitments, SC East Bengal has started announcing their foreigners, all of whom are free agents.
New head coach Manolo Diaz who replaced Robbie Fowler, has an important role in all their foreign signings, who should be announced in the coming weeks.
In this article, IFTWC explores how Dervišević fits into Diaz’s plans and how he could help East Bengal aim higher in the league table this year.
Who is Amir Dervišević
Amir Dervišević is a 29-year-old central midfielder who has played his entire career in Slovenia up until now. He has frequented the Slovenian top division Prva Liga for NK Maribor, making 158 appearances for the Violets, scoring 18 goals, and picking up 27 assists.
Dervišević started his professional career for Interblock Ljubljana in 2010, making six appearances for the club in the Druga Liga, the second division of Slovenian football. However, various problems surrounding a merger with another club NK Bravo, led to Interblock withdrawing from all competitions in 2012.
Fellow Druga Liga club NK Krka had spotted the potential and were quick to sign Dervišević for the 2012/13 season. This is where he got his big break, enjoying his most prolific season, scoring ten goals in the Liga. Krka was one of the best-attacking sides in the league under Borivoje Lucic, scoring 63 goals which propelled them to a third-placed finished and promotion to the Prva Liga.
His exploits earned him a call-up by NK Maribor, arguably the most extensive team in all of Slovenia often recognised as a symbol of Slovenian football. Maribor, along with NK Celje, had founded the top division league, the Prva Liga; they have won a record 15 Prva Liga titles and have never been relegated from the first division.
In his first season at the club, Dervišević found himself in the starting line-up quite frequently, also making five appearances in the UEFA Europa League. Maribor was knocked out by eventual champions Sevilla in the Round of 32. Playing in a more profound role, Dervišević picked up a goal and an assist in the 2013/14 season for the Violets.
Maribor qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the 2014/15 season, drawing Chelsea, Schalke 04, and Sporting CP. However, Dervišević did not feature in any of the group stage games. After failing to establish himself as a regular starter after the 2015/16 campaign, he was sent on loan for a year to Druga Liga club NK Verzej, scoring three goals in 11 appearances for the green outfit.
He returned in 2017 and was associated with the club till 2021, a regular in his last three seasons. He won 3 Prva Liga titles for Maribor, a Cup, and a Supercup.
The midfielder represented his nation at all stages across the youth teams and also made six appearances for the senior team in 2018, five of them coming in the UEFA Nations League.
Amir Dervišević’s style of play
Amir has played the role of a central midfielder for the majority part of his career. He played in an advanced position for NK Krka where he scored 10 goals but was a traditional central midfielder at Maribor.
His height of 1.95m makes him a massive threat from set-pieces. However, interestingly, the tall man is also a set-piece specialist. This can cause quite the headache for East Bengal head coach Manolo Diaz if he turns out to be the best set-piece taker in the squad.
Dervišević’s long-range passing is also very good as he often shifted to the role of a deep-lying playmaker during his later years at Maribor, supplying long balls into the opposition box.
A lot depends on what formation Diaz fields his eleven. The Spanish coach’s most used formation during his time at Castilla is the traditional 4-4-2. Dervišević would perfectly slot in this system as a holding midfielder. He would not have to take on all of the defensive duties and along with his partner, can help East Bengal control the midfield.
His shooting is also decent. The majority of the goals that he has scored in his career have been headers from set-pieces or long-range finishes with his left foot.
How well he performs on the pitch depends on how well he can adapt to the heat and humidity in India. Unlike many other new foreigners in the ISL who have played for Asian teams, this is not only Amir’s first foray out of Europe, it is also his first time outside his nation.
What this means for SC East Bengal
It is quite evident that Manolo Diaz had targeted foreigners who will fit his system and in Amir Dervišević, the fans have someone they can trust to hold the ball in the middle of the park. Matti Steinmann failed to do that last season, despite popping up with goals once in a while.
The entire foreign contingent of SC East Bengal had a torrid campaign last year bar Bright Enobakhare who provided some moments of absolute ecstasy to the fans. An overhaul was strictly needed and the club officials have made some smart choices in the transfer market.
It is too early to predict where East Bengal will end up in the league table but their professionalism and shrewd decisions in the market can see them land a few more impressive foreigners which will help them get closer to the top 4 spots.
Follow our website for the latest updates on Indian Football.