Who is Iman Basafa? Everything you need to know about Bengaluru FC’s latest signing

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Bengaluru FC

Announcing their AFC quota signing for the upcoming season, Bengaluru FC revealed on Tuesday that Iranian midfielder Iman Basafa will be joining the Blues on a one-year deal. Amidst the controversy surrounding Erik Paartalu’s contract, the Australian was seen training in Bengaluru individually, suggesting he will continue to play for Bengaluru FC unless they manage to find a solution for him. Cleiton Silva, who was one of the best performers last season for Bengaluru, has also been retained.

In this article, we try to shed some light on how Iman Basafa fits into Marco Pezzaiouli’s set-up as well as what Bengaluru fans can expect from the Iranian.

Who is Iman Basafa

Iman Basafa played for Machine Sazi in the Persian Gulf Pro League last season, racking up 1642 minutes and playing in almost all the matches. The 29-year-old will be playing outside Iran for the first time after playing in various divisions across his home country since debuting as a professional. Basafa has played 104 games in the second division league in Iran and 64 games in the Gulf League. The midfielder had his first breakthrough when he was signed up by Iranian giants Esteghlal FC in 2013. However, he was loaned out to fellow league side Esteghlal Khuzestan in the following season.

Bengaluru FC

Iman spent the next five years in the second division with teams like Fajr Sepasi, Malavan, and Aluminium Arak. He made his return to the first division in 2019 with a move to Pars Janoub but left the club after they were relegated. The midfielder was a regular for Machine Sazi who was also relegated at the end of the last season as a result of which the midfielder now finds himself in India, ready to don the blue jersey of Bengaluru FC. The 29-year-old has also starred for the youth sides of the Iran National team.

Iman Basafa is a versatile midfielder who excels in both defensive and offensive roles. His physicality is one of his major plus points and the same contributes to his tenacity in aerial duels. Besides, the 29-year-old is also a major threat from set-pieces with his heading abilities and occasionally likes testing the goalkeeper from distance.

How would Iman Basafa fit tactically into Marco Pezzaiouli’s system

As we saw in the AFC Cup, Marco Pezzaiouli likes to play a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 formation with either a lone CDM or a double pivot. Jayesh Rane was always present, often in the CAM role, while Suresh Wangjam and either Rohit Kumar, Danish Farooq, or Ajay Chhetri as the defensive midfielder. In Marco’s system, the defensive midfielder’s role is to maintain cover for the defensive line with limited attacking duties. Although Danish’s attacking output was higher, but overall Marco prefers a CDM oriented towards the defensive end of the field.

Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru announced the signing of Brazilian midfielder Bruno Ramires last week, a player who is more comfortable with the attacking role. With Basafa now in Bengaluru, The Blues have the perfect midfield pairing, with both Bruno and the Iranian complementing each other on the field. With Suresh Wangjam and Jayesh Rane both impressing in the AFC Cup, we might see a scrumptious midfield trio as in Iman, Suresh, and Jayesh, with the former serving as the CDM. Basafa’s physicality and defensive skills make him the ideal candidate to play in that role.

The significance of this signing for Bengaluru FC

It has always been Bengaluru’s preference to have a foreign defensive midfielder with Paartalu and Fran Gonzalez proving the same last season. The acquisition of Rohit Kumar and Danish Farooq could have changed things, but Bengaluru has stuck with their preferred policy by signing Iman Basafa.

Bengaluru FC

The Iranian’s chances of making the starting eleven will largely depend on how well Bengaluru’s Indian defenders and forwards perform. If players players Bidyasagar Singh and Pratik Choudhury fail to impress Marco, Bengaluru may be forced to play both Costa and King with Prince Ibara upfront. Fran Gonzalez, who was signed for the same position last year, had struggled to make a positive impact for Bengaluru; as a result of which, they have been very careful with the acquisition at this important position.

Bengaluru FC is currently in Kolkata, playing in the Durand Cup with a second-string side. They bowed out of the AFC Cup after rivals ATK Mohun Bagan topped the group and proceeded to the next stage. They managed to win one and draw one of their three matches in the group stage. Bengaluru will play Northeast United FC on November 20 in their first game this season.

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