These foreign stars were rumoured to be a part of the premier league competition in India.
The Indian Super League (ISL) has had its share of marquee signings over the years consisting of world class players, albeit in the latter stages of their careers. Nevertheless, marquee signings like Luis Garcia, Robbie Keane, Alessandro Del Piero, Alessandro Nesta, Elano Blumer, Tim Cahill, Dimitar Berbatov, Florent Malouda, and more have brought much-needed attention and quality to the league.
These foreigners have not only contributed to attracting eyeballs to football as a sport in India, but have also lifted the standards of the domestic players thanks to their experience and guidance. It can be argued that the marquee foreign signings have been instrumental in elevating the status of the ISL.
Interestingly, there is also a special bunch of players that were rumoured with a move to India, but due to unknown circumstances, their transfers never materialized. We take a look at five players from across the globe, whom the fans would have loved to see plying their trade in the ISL.
5. David Villa
When the news of City Football Group’s buyout of a controlling stake in Mumbai City FC broke, the early reports were indicating that as part of the investment and expansion project, David Villa would be coming to the ISL, playing for MCFC by next season. Incidentally, CFG are also the Abu-Dhabi based owners of Premier League champions Manchester City among several other clubs all over the world.
David Villa, who recently played for Vissel Kobe in Japan, has previously also featured for New York City FC as well, another club under the CFG umbrella. However, Villa’s agent, Victor Onate rubbished the reports, ending any hopes of the World Cup-winning Spaniard playing in India.
4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Back when Gianluca Zambrotta was in-charge of Delhi Dynamos, he gave an interview to the Indian Express saying that, “Given his fan-following in India, I think Zlatan would want to come and end his career here. On my end, I will definitely try and convince him to play for Delhi Dynamos. India will soon be a big destination for international football.” However, eventually Zlatan Ibrahimovic made a sensational move to Manchester United and his next destination was already being bet upon.
Safe to say, neither Zambrotta’s reign lasted long enough, nor did Ibrahimovic’s move to the ISL materialize. Moreover, even Dynamos as a club ceased to exist after the owners shifted base to Odisha. On the other hand, the Swedish forward is still playing at the highest level, currently for AC Milan and might want to consider playing for a year or two in India before hanging up his boots.
3. Bastian Schweinsteiger
It was reported that Bastian Schweinsteiger was set to feature in the ISL after ATK’s then coach, Steve Coppell expressed his interest in bringing the World Cup-winning German sensation to India. Reports had suggested that the club were in advanced talks with the player and the signing was imminent.
However, club higher-ups swiftly closed that chapter by suggesting that they were not aware of any communication between the player and the manager and there was no truth in Schweinsteiger arriving in India to play in the ISL. The midfielder who currently plays in the MLS for Chicago Fire.
Ronaldinho is often described as the most gifted and entertaining player to have ever graced the sport. The man who played with an evergreen smile has featured for top clubs like FC Barcelona and AC Milan among others. The Brazilian was also linked with a move to the ISL back in 2014, before the start of the inaugural campaign.
Ronaldinho’s agent was apparently in advanced talks with two-time champions Chennaiyin FC who were offering gigantic wages to bring the magician to the subcontinent. However, the move fell through due to some disagreements and the player instead chose to move to Mexican side, Queretaro.
1. Didier Drogba
Another high-profile transfer that never materialized was that of former Chelsea legend, Didier Drogba. The Ivory Coast player was linked with a move to ATK who were gearing up for another marquee signing, following up on Luis Garcia’s signature in the previous campaign. Drogba’s agent had called the attempt to secure the forward’s services a ‘statement of real intent.’
However, despite a massive contract on offer, the Ivorian instead chose to sign for Montreal Impact, thus depriving the Kolkata-based outfit of his services.