There have been quite a few players who shined in the I-League last season, and have earned the chance of competing in the ISL this season.
The new Indian Super League (ISL) season is just around the corner and while much of the spotlight has been given on the foreign signings in recent months, some sides have done great work in reinforcing their domestic core.
A solid Indian core is absolutely vital for any team to compete at the top of the ISL and we have seen the domestic players being key to important victories over the past few seasons. There have been quite a few players who shined in the I-League last season, who have earned the chance of competing in the ISL this season, with many clubs paying high fees to lure them away from their I-League clubs.
What has been I-League’s loss has been the ISL’s gain this season, as we take a look at the top five new Indian signings everyone should look out for during the latest season of the Indian Super League.
5. Michael Soosairaj
Jamshedpur FC paid a record fee of ₹25 lakh for Soosairaj
Michael Soosairaj was one of the brightest attacking players in the I-League last season, with his excellent work with Chennai City FC helping them survive relegation in the league. Soosairaj came up as a dangerous winger for Chennai and he traumatized defenses on the left-wing with his movement and impressive dribbling ability. Soosairaj scored three goals for Chennai City last season and won the award for the Best midfielder of the I-League last time.
Soosairaj will look to continue his good form at Jamshedpur FC this season and having paid a record fee of 25 lakh, he’ll have a lot of expectations on his shoulders. But Soosairaj seems to thrive under pressure and will look to light up Jamshedpur with his trickery. Soosairaj’s impressive eye for goal and creativity will be vital in Jamshedpur’s success on the attack and he’ll look to improve his chances of a national team call-up by impressing in his debut ISL season.
4. Sheikh Faiaz
Sheikh Faiaz was one of the finds of the season for Mohun Bagan last season in the I-League, where he terrorized defenses with his movement and dribbling ability on the right flank. Faiaz proved to be a surprise package of the season and produced some stunning performances which proved him as one of the rising talents in the country. Faiaz scored two goals and assisted a few more in the I-League last season and was adjourned the Man of the Match on multiple occasions as well.
The tricky winger has been picked up by ATK this season and add to the firepower of their attack. Faiaz will look to use his pacy and impressive crossing ability to create many chances this season and if opponents don’t take his threat seriously, Faiaz could cause some serious damage this season.
3. Nikhil Kadam
Nikhil Kadam proved to be an excellent winger for Mohun Bagan last season, with his fantastic crossing ability terrorizing many opponents in the I-League. Kadam had big shoes to fill with Sony Norde gone from the Mariners but did his job pretty well by assisting quite a few goals for Bagan in the I-league. He only scored one goal, but his fantastic creativity and crossing ability impressed NorthEast United enough to sign him up.
The Highlanders have signed Kadam to add more creativity to their attack, with Kadam’s fantastic final-ball delivery perfect for new strikers Bartholomew Ogbeche and Juan Mascia. Kadam will look to continue his terrorizing work on the flanks and aim to finally take NorthEast United to the ISL playoff stages.
2. Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem
The youngster is set to start for Kerala Blasters in the ISL this time
He might only have a few matches in the I-League last season, but Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem retained his excellent FIFA U-17 World Cup form with Indian Arrows, for whom he put in some terrific performances. Despite playing against experience, older players in the I-League, Dheeraj put in some commendable performances and even attained a few clean-sheets and a man of the match award for his heroics against Mohun Bagan.
After his prolific trial at Motherwell, Dheeraj was snapped up by Kerala Blasters, who have vowed to make him their starting keeper this season. Dheeraj will be the youngest keeper in the competition’s history, but with David James at his side, he will continue improving as a keeper. The young goalkeeper will keep on making excellent stops in the ISL and knowing his ability, he will thrive under the pressure and produce some special performances this season.
1. Raynier Fernandes
Raynier Fernandes was quite an industrial midfielder for Mohun Bagan last season in the I-League, as he helped stabilize the Mariners midfield and was an ever-bearing presence for them throughout the season. Fernandes’ work-rate in the middle of the park, ability to win back the ball and creativity helped Mohun Bagan maintain control of most their games and his set-piece ability helped set up a few goals as well.
The Maharashtra midfielder was signed up by Mumbai City FC a few months ago and will go back to where he started in the city of Mumbai. Fernandes will bring a lot of steel to Mumbai’s midfield, something which they’ve been missing for a long time. He’ll prove to be an effective signing because of his hard-working ability and will look to make a big impact in his debut season in the ISL.