These stalwarts ruled the pitch on their day and repaid well the faith shown in them by their respective clubs.
An irregular season, but a lot of positives to take away from. Such was the story of Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21, which recently concluded with Mumbai City FC lifting the title. The season also saw some of the best ISL foreign signings
A major takeaway from the memorable campaign was the wise recruitment done by clubs. Barring a few, high-profile foreign signings ran like clockwork for their respective teams. Igor Angulo, Diego Mauricio, Stephen Eze, Aridane Santana all proved their class on the pitch, leading by example.
Today, let’s take a look at the top five foreign signings of ISL 2020-21:
5. Diego Mauricio (Odisha FC)
Diego Mauricio’s arrival at Odisha FC created a lot of buzz in the Indian football circuit. This was due to the fact that he had partnered with Brazilian legend Ronaldinho a decade ago at Fluminense. Nicknamed ‘Drogbinha,’ the stocky forward didn’t need much time to prove his worth.
Mauricio opened his goalscoring account with a spectacular brace against Jamshedpur FC. In doing so, he sent out a warning to defenders in the league. The 29-year-old was ever-present in the Odisha attack and delivered whenever they needed him the most.
In the end, the Juggernauts endured a disastrous season finishing at the bottom of the table. Nevertheless, Diego Mauricio managed to register 12 goals and two assists in 20 games, thereby validating himself as one of the deadliest attackers in ISL 2020-21.
4. Aridane Santana (Hyderabad FC)
The Spaniard had taken the league by storm a couple of years ago, scoring nine goals for Odisha in the first half of 2019-20 season. Injury marred his extraordinary campaign and he moved to Hyderabad FC in the following summer.
In a relatively young and inexperienced squad, Aridane Santana stood his ground, captaining the side IN a remarkable campaign. Being one of the most vocal players on the pitch, the 34-year-old went a step higher by scoring 10 goals and providing for two more. Hyderabad played with only three foreigners in majority of their games. However, with Aridane’s presence, the Nizams oozed confidence.
3. Khassa Camara (NorthEast United FC)
NorthEast United were the biggest surprise package of ISL 2020-21. Their foreign signings amalgamated perfectly into the squad and proved their mettle initially under Gerard Nus. Later, they also did well under Khalid Jamil as they reached the playoffs.
Khassa Camara, the Mauritanian international, turned out to be one of their most fruitful signings, as he was absolutely rock-solid in midfield. He managed to grab eyeballs in his debut game for the Highlanders, as they shocked Mumbai City in their season opener.
A defensive midfielder by trade, Camara registered 110 tackles (third highest in the league), 50 interceptions and 26 blocks. While attempting the highest passes by any NorthEast United player this season (816), he maintained a commendable 74% passing accuracy and also provided an assist.
2. Igor Angulo (FC Goa)
Replacing Ferran Corominas could’ve been an enormous task, but Igor Angulo did so with utmost ease. The Spaniard picked up from where his compatriot left off at FC Goa and finished as the top scorer of ISL 2020-21 with 14 goals.
Angulo is the perfect goal poacher FC Goa would’ve wished for. His presence in the attacking third at the right place and right time did a world of good for the Gaurs, as they fought their way into the playoffs. At 37, the former Athletic Bilbao forward is ageing like fine wine and held his head high among the relatively younger foreigners in ISL 2020-21.
1. Ahmed Jahouh (Mumbai City FC)
Ahmed Jahouh’s quality was not unknown to Indian football fans when he moved to Mumbai City last summer. The Moroccan midfielder made a smooth transition under Sergio Lobera. He once again led the charts for most touches in the league and narrowly missed out on most passes, standing second, below Edu Bedia.
Jahouh oozed class right from the getgo at Mumbai, owning the midfield battle against almost every team. His pinpoint long balls, timely interceptions and fearless ball control helped the Islanders build attacks and win games. The Islanders created history by winning both the League Winners’ Shield as well as the ISL 2020-21 title and Ahmed Jahouh played a central role in their triumph.