Some of these acquisitions made an immediate impact while others turned out well over a few years.
It has been a season filled with drama, action, agony and ecstasy for the clubs in the Indian Super League (ISL). As we head into the business end of the competition, we still do not know which of the teams will be making it to the playoffs this campaign and who will bag the title. Over the course of the season, some of the teams have had issues which they would like to rectify. Therefore, the January transfer window is the time when teams look to bring in reinforcements to strengthen their case for a forward push into the playoffs and even higher.
Over the years, there have been some excellent signings in the January transfer window. Some have had an immediate impact for their respective clubs, while some of them have turned out to be prized assets over a few years.
Without further ado, let us take a look at the January signings which had a big impact in ISL:
5. Liston Colaco– Hyderabad FC
The Indian youngster who has taken the ISL by storm this season under the tutelage of Manolo Marquez joined Hyderabad FC from FC Goa in January 2020 in order to get more game-time. Liston could only manage nine minutes across three matches last season under Sergio Lobera at FC Goa. The youngster was way down in the pecking order and hence he decided to join a club where he would get important minutes and continue his development.
While his talent was never in doubt, Indian football fans have been taken aback by the way he has settled into life under Manolo Marquez at Hyderabad FC and has been one of the impact players this season. The 22-year old has already notched up two goals and three assists and is keen to learn even more.
4. Pritam Kotal– ATK
The India international moved from Delhi Dynamos to return back to then ATK in January 2019. The Kolkata-based club paid a handsome transfer fee to lure the experienced defender as the then head coach Steve Coppell needed some reinforcements in the middle of the season. Kotal who had already represented the club back in 2016 when they won the ISL title for the second time, was returning to his hometown and ever since he has been a fan-favourite.
The 27-year old right-back has added more facets to his game as he can also play as a centre back in a three-man backline. He is currently at ATK Mohun Bagan and has been one of the most trusted soldiers for head coach Antonio Lopez Habas. It was a statement signing backline with his performances over the year the experienced India international has proven that the club did not do anything wrong in pursuing him.
3. Wellington Priori– Jamshedpur FC
The Brazilian midfielder who has represented NorthEast United and Jamshedpur FC was one of the best January signings for the Men of Steel. Priori joined Jamshedpur in January 2018 after he left Pattaya United. He became the much-needed reinforcement for head coach Coppell, who then carried on with his forward charge.
Although Jamshedpur failed to make it to the playoffs as they finished fifth, Priori added panache to their midfield and linked up well with forwards Izu Azuka and Kervens Belfort. He is still remembered in India because of the famous overhead-kick goal he scored against NorthEast United from Azuka’s throw-in.
2. Edu Garcia- ATK
The Spaniard made his name on Indian soil when he plied his trade for Bengaluru FC. But, a great offer from Chinese outfit Zhejiang Greentown meant that Garcia had to part ways with the Blues. However, he returned to the ISL in January 2019 when he joined ATK as Coppell desperately needed some reinforcements to replace the players down with injury concerns.
It was a tough season for the Kolkata-based outfit, as they finished sixth in the league table. However, Garcia played his part as he combined well with Manuel Lanzarote and even scored a few goals in the process. The Spaniard was welcomed with open arms by most of the Indian football aficionados, as he had already proved his mettle during his time at Bengaluru. Currently, with ATK Mohun Bagan, Garcia is still going strong.
1. Mohammed Nawaz– FC Goa
Another Indian youngster who was signed as a development player in January 2018 by FC Goa turned into one of the best custodians in the ISL. Before joining the Gaurs, Nawaz represented India at the BRICS U-17 tournament which was held in Goa. There he started in matches against eventual champions Brazil, China, Russia and South Africa.
The Manipuri youngster was promoted to the first-team by Lobera, who was very impressed with his ability to play the ball out from the back. It started a new journey for Nawaz as he became one of the first names on the team-sheet because he fit perfectly in his preferred system. The 21-year old has been the first-choice over the years.