Jorge Costa’s induction in Mumbai City FC’s roster in 2018 brought upon extensive transformations. The Portuguese, who played for Jose Mourinho’s Champions League winning FC Porto team, got onto the wheel following Alexandre Guimarães departure and laid down a sheer no-nonsense approach. And with it, he brought in some of the stellar names of the industry, including his countryman, Paulo Machado.

“When Jorge Costa and Mumbai City FC presented this opportunity to me to join this wonderful club, I did not have to think twice,” said the midfielder after completing his move.

Being one of the most experienced campaigners, giving Machado the captain’s armband was a no-brainer. The midfielder though took his time settling in and that indeed affected Mumbai’s early results last season. But following a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of FC Goa, the team got into the groove and went on an exhilarating nine-game winning run. And of course, Machado played a vital role in the stretch.

Late in January this year, Mumbai played host to the eventual champions, Bengaluru FC and it was Machado’s goal in the 29th minute which made the difference. Apart from scoring the winner, the midfielder had a whopping 55 touches in the game and put in five tackles to be adjudged the man of the match.

Read | Mumbai City FC: Gunning for glory with a new look team

A 5-1 defeat to Goa back in March is largely remembered as an absolute humiliation, but what went under the radar is the fact that Machado played nine key passes during the game and won nine corners, which was by far the most by player in either side.

The Portuguese’s mystic understanding with the likes of Arnold Issoko, Rafael Bastos and Modou Sougou was crucial in Mumbai’s run towards their second-ever semi-finals of the tournament. His return of two goals and four assists coupled with 93 tackles (third-best in the league last season) was enough for the team to hand him a two-year extension.

Despite being a journeyman for most of his career, Machado has been a vital member for every team has been a part of. Starting off his career with FC Porto, he represented as many as four clubs while on loan before making a permanent move to Toulouse in 2009.

Read | Four high-profile foreign players to have donned Mumbai City FC shirt

After spending three years and making 100 appearances for the French side, he decided to move to Greece, joining Olympiacos, with whom he not only won two back-to-back league titles but played a role in beating Manchester United 2-0 in the first leg of the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Credits: AFP / Aris Messinis

What followed next was a three-year stint with Dinamo Zagreb and despite making a noteworthy impact in their title-winning seasons, his tenure was marred with an unfortunate controversy with the fans. In September 2017, Machado made a trip back home, joining C.D. Aves before being called by Costa in India.

Lodging Machado in a two-man midfield in his usual 4-3-2-1 setup paid dividends as the midfielder ended his season with the most number of passes (925), touches (1130), interceptions (24) and tackles (93) for the Islanders. The Portuguese was not only tasked to do the dirty work but was also asked to orchestrate or stretch the game at times, which as you can expect, he did to mere perfection.

Mumbai City may have shown early signs of regression this season, but the fact that Machado remains their undoubtedly salient serviceman is simply out of any debate.

Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @indsuperleague