Mumbai, July 10: Sunil Chhetri could not trigger a bidding war among franchises in the first ever Hero Indian Super League Player Auction here today but the star player said he was not disappointed with the Rs 1.2 crore price tag he got from Mumbai City FC as "money was not his priority".
Chhetri, the current captain of the national team and poster boy of Indian football, was the fifth player called for auction in the star-studded event at an upscale city hotel and many were expecting that he would go for at least twice his base price of Rs 80 lakhs.
But only two teams - Delhi Dynamos and eventual buyers Mumbai - took part in the bidding for a player who has been the poster boy of Indian football since the retirement of Bhaichung Bhutia in 2011.
In contrast, rising star Eugeneson Lyngdoh was sold for Rs 1.05 crore to FC Pune City. His base price was Rs 27.50 crore. The 30-year-old Chhetri, however, said that he was not disappointed with the price in which he was bought by the Mumbai team owned by Bollywood heartthrob Ranbir Kapur.
'Money is not my priority'
"I have played highest level of football for the last 13 years and fortunately I have enough money. I am not disappointed as money is not my priority," said Chhetri who has played 87 international matches and is the country's highest goal scorer with more than 40 strikes.
"I have played all over the world but have not played in Mumbai for long. So I am excited to be playing in Mumbai," added Chhetri who has played for Mohun Bagan, JCT, East Bengal, Dempo, Kansas City Wizards, Sporting Lisbon B side, Churchill Brothers and Bengaluru FC.
Ranbir admitted that he had never thought that his team would buy a player of the stature of Chhetri at such a low price.
"We have not in our dreams thought that we would get Chhetri at this price. He is such a great player, one of the best the country has ever produced. The level of a player he is, the leadership he has given to the clubs he has played and for the national team, I am shocked and surprised to buy him at Rs 1.2 crore," said Ranbir.
Dream combination of Chhetri and Anelka
He said his team will have a dream combination upfront with Chhetri pairing with former French international Nicolas Anelka who will be the marquee player-cum-manager for Mumbai City FC.
"It will be a dream combination of Chhetri and Anelka and I am really excited about that. I think we can a have a quality team this year, a team which the people of the city can be proud of. I was very disappointed at the performance of my team last year but I am looking for a turnaround this time," said Ranbir whose team finished seventh last year.
Chhetri did not play in the first edition of the ISL as his side Bengaluru FC did not release him and his team-mates.
Asked about the road ahead in the ISL, Chhetri said, "I could not take part in the first edition and now I am excited to be a part of it. With due respect to the I-League, this (ISL) is a fresh and very professional set-up."
Asked if he was looking forward to playing with Anelka upfront, Chhetri said, "Who would not want to play alongside Anelka? He is a class player."