These stars shocked everyone by choosing contract extensions over dream moves.

Every transfer window in the Indian Super League (ISL) brings with it rumors, expectations and drama. There was nothing new in the 2022/23 summer transfer window as well. Players like Greg Stewart, Ashish Rai, and Cleiton Silva completed big-money moves to ISL clubs. Others like Akash Mishra, Jeakson Singh and Bart Ogbeche stayed at their clubs, taking everyone by surprise. 

Loyalty and commitment are virtues highly appreciated by fanbases all around the world. While people are more excited by players joining new clubs, the ones staying often make a place for themselves in the fans’ hearts. Let us now take a look at the top five players in the Indian Super League (ISL) who we thought would move but did not.

5. Puitea

Puitea
Puitea was linked with a move to Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan (Courtesy: ISL Media)

It might seem that the Kerala Blasters squad is packed to the brim with loyalty and that it is almost a trend. Midfield engine Lalthathanga Khawlhring did not move. ‘Puitea’, as he is called, has a Casemiro-esque playing style and is renowned for his hard floor-sweeping tackles.

Last season, the midfield powerhouse set up his teammates thrice but was more dominant while shielding the defence and regaining possession.

His physicality as well as his ability to control the tempo of the game are important assets. To have both in one player is rare and clubs like Mumbai City FC required such presence and stability. Yet, the Indian defensive midfielder chose to honour Ivan Vukomanovic’s trust in him and stayed with the Tuskers.

4. Peter Hartley

Peter Hartley
Hartley has penned one-year contract extension with JFC despite interests from elsewhere (Courtesy: ISL Media)

The Men of Steel clinched their maiden ISL League Winners’ Shield under the able captaincy of their fearless captain Peter Hartley. He was influential at the heart of defence as he put in some rock-solid displays. For instance, his outing against ATK Mohun Bagan on the final matchday is remembered by one and many.

The Englishman led the Red Miners’ title-winning campaign. With 39 tackles, 23 interceptions, 72 clearances and 14 blocks, he was testimony to the fact that defences win titles. The Sunderland graduate chose to renew his fruitful relationship with the fans and the club as he signed a one-year extension.

3. Bartholomew Ogbeche

Bartholomew Ogbeche
Ogbeche was reportedly in talks with multiple ISL clubs before deciding to extend at Hyderabad FC (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Becoming the top-scorer in a season as well as the highest-ever goalscorer in a league is no mean feat. Hyderabad FC frontman Bartholomew Ogbeche is the man who pulled off both these feats.

The 37-year-old former Parisian set the league on fire with his heroics once again last season. Leading the Nizams to the ISL crown, the Nigerian striker scored a whopping 18 times and assisted once.

The powerful striker has a habit of leading teams from the front, having helped Mumbai City to the double in the 2020/21 season. His style of play is extremely fluid as his skills are not limited to being a traditional hold-up centre-forward.

A silky dribbler who creates space with his inverted runs and blind-side sprints, Ogbeche literally slots into any team with ease.  

2. Naorem Roshan Singh

Naorem Roshan Singh
Naorem Roshan Singh is one of the best emerging young Indian talents in recent times (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Marco Pezzaiouli’s greatest revelation in his time at Bengaluru FC has to be young prodigy Naorem Roshan Singh. A proper modern full-back in the mold of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Roshan can fit in across a variety of positions.

Though primarily deployed as an inverted right-back, the left-footed player can also play in a wide midfielder role. His USP is his intense attacking output combined with set-piece brilliance and defensive solidity.

Last season, he became the Indian with the highest number of assists in the league, with seven to his name. Roshan broke another record as he toppled the league’s record for most assists by a defender. The Emerging Player of the Year-winner was touted to be the centre of attraction in the transfer window, but he chose to sign a three-year extension.

1. Akash Mishra

Akash Mishra
Mishra held talks with a J2 League club before signing a contract extension with Hyderabad FC (Courtesy: ISL Media)

The first Indian to make it to the EA Sports FIFA Ultimate Team Team of The Week (TOTW) ever was probably the brightest spot of Indian football last season. Akash Mishra featured in the same as part of the TOTW 20 squad in the premium football simulation game. The 85 rating for pace highlights Mishra’s primary attribute.

His tenacity in bombing up and down the flank was unmatched in the league last season. An ace at reading the opponent in 1v1s, Mishra topped the charts with 57 interceptions in 23 matches. Mishra is also an unusual set-piece threat as both of his goals last season came from headers. Crossing is another asset of his game, he got three assists.   

Mumbai City, FC Goa, NorthEast United, Jamshedpur FC all looked like they could do with his qualities in their squad. A possibility of joining J2 League side Machida Zelvia also surfaced. However, the left-back chose to stay with Hyderabad FC after signing an extension and decided to help them defend the ISL trophy. 

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