Mumbai City FC confirmed that the club has agreed a deal with NorthEast United FC for the transfer of Lalengmawia for an undisclosed fee on Friday. The promising young midfielder joins the defending Hero ISL Champions on a five-year contract until May 2026.
Lalengmawia, or Apuia Ralte as he’s fondly known, rose through the ranks of the AIFF Elite Academy and made his name after being the only player from Mizoram to make it to India’s squad for the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup. After two hugely impressive seasons that followed in the Hero I-League with the Indian Arrows, where Apuia made 13 appearances and scored a goal, the central midfielder signed for NorthEast United FC in the Hero ISL ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.
The 20-year-old turned out on 10 occasions in his debut campaign for the Highlanders and stepped it up in the following season, featuring in each of the 22 games and scoring a memorable strike from distance in NorthEast United FC’s run to the semifinals in the 2020-21 season.
Apuia marked a milestone season in his short career as he led out NorthEast United FC as the youngest captain in Hero ISL history before being named Hero ISL’s Emerging Player of the Season and the FPAI Young Player of the Season for 2020-21. His outstanding performances in the domestic season earned him his first call-up to the Indian National Team, as he made his international debut for the Blue Tigers against Oman in a 1-1 draw earlier this year.
With a bright, promising future ahead, Apuia joins Mumbai City FC ahead of a historic season with a chance to defend both the League Winners’ Shield and the Trophy, and represent India at the 2022 AFC Champions League.
Apuia said: “Firstly, I want to thank NorthEast United FC for giving me the opportunity to play at the highest level in India but now, I feel I am ready to take the next step in my career. To join a club of Mumbai City FC’s stature is a huge honour for me and for my family. The club has the ambition and the intent, not just to win titles in India but to make a mark in Asia as well and I want to be a part of it. The club had a hugely successful last season and I believe we’re on the right path to build something special here. I am still young, I have a lot to learn and I am looking forward to getting to work with the coach Sergio Lobera, his staff and my new teammates.”
Head Coach Sergio Lobera said: “A player of Apuia's calibre brings a lot of quality to the team and reminds us that if you are good enough, you are old enough. He is an exciting talent, possibly the best of his generation, and he is the right type of individual that we want at Mumbai City FC. There is no doubt that there is great maturity and flair in the way he plays his football and we want to give Apuia the right platform and the right guidance to become the exceptional player that he can be at Mumbai City FC for years to come. I am pleased to welcome Apuia to the club and I wish him all the good health and success.”
Club co-owner Bimal Parekh said: “We are delighted to be able to bring in a talented young boy like Apuia to Mumbai City FC. It is no surprise that we faced considerable competition for his signature given the sheer quality Apuia brings to the table. Although he is only 20, we are confident that Apuia can make a difference right away and at the same time, we want to help him achieve to his full potential as well. We are committed to his long-term development and we will spare no effort to provide Apuia the right opportunities and platform within the Indian football ecosystem and beyond.”