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Top 10 shocking transfers in Indian Super League history

Published at :June 29, 2022 at 12:58 AM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : The Sun/ISL Media)

Riddhiman Sarkar

These signings astonished supporters.

Just last week, ATK Mohun Bagan unveiled their foreign player to be Paul Pogba’s elder brother. Such transfers was treated almost as well as that of a marquee player joining the clubs in the inaugural and initial editions of the Indian Super League (ISL). Though Florentin Pogba is not a footballing legend or doesn’t have a legacy as decorated as some other players, he’s surely an exciting addition to the ISL ranks.

His arrival also sets the stage for probable transfers of more top European players to enter the fray in India. Let us now take a look at the top 10 most shocking transfers in the ISL's history that excited fans like none other.

10. Stiven Mendoza (Chennaiyin FC)

Stiven Mendoza
Mendoza won the ISL Golden boot, Golden Ball and trophy in 2015 (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Stiven Mendoza joined Chennaiyin FC in the inaugural season of the ISL. Later he was signed by Brasiliero Serie A side Corinthians. However, the Brazilian side loaned him back to the marina Machans for the second installment of the league. The Colombian repaid the management’s faith by rocketing the club into a title-winning form.

He dazzled the league with his silky skills and goalscoring exploits which saw him grab 11 goals and two assists and become a fan favourite. Although his arrival did not exactly stir up a storm, his departure surely disheartened a lot of fans who were enthralled by his feats.

9. Elano (Chennaiyin FC)

ISL Top transfers
Elano won the ISL Golden Boot in the league's inaugural season (Instagram/@elanoblumer)

The former Manchester City and Santos attacking midfielder was the marquee player for Chennaiyin FC in the first two seasons of the ISL. Although his pedigree was less illustrative than the other marquee players, he turned into a crucial pivot for his side as he won the first Golden Boot of the league and club as well.

His efficacy in dead ball situations was unparalleled and he brought about a new dimension of goalscoring into the league. With 12 goals and six assists in 26 appearances, the Brazilian mesmerized the ISL during his time with the Marina Machans. 

8. Florent Malouda (Delhi Dynamos)

Florent Malouda
Florent Malouda made 32 appearances for Delhi Dynamos. (Courtesy: Delhi Dynamos)

Chelsea and Lyon’s talismanic winger, Florent Malouda, became the marquee player for the Delhi Dynamos in 2017. He unleashed his stellar creativity and wowed supporters and players alike. The former Champions League winner made 32 appearances for the club, scoring thrice and assisting a whopping 11 goals in his only season in the ISL.

7. Asamoah Gyan (NorthEast United)

Asamoah Gyan
Injury cut short Gyan's time at NorthEast United (Courtesy: ISL Media)

The former Ghana national team captain graced the ISL more recently than most of the names on this list. He signed with the Highlanders in the 2019-20 season as he scored four times and assisted once in eight appearances. Though his stint was a short one, his signing invigorated the fanbase.

Sunderland's record transfer and also two-time AFCON runner-up made sure that the Indian Super League got a taste of what international football experience looks like.

6. Florentin Pogba (ATK Mohun Bagan)

Florentin Pogba
Florentin Pogba has signed a two-year contract with ATK Mohun Bagan (Courtesy: L’EST REPUBLICAN)

In the latest transfer twist, ATK Mohun Bagan rattled their rivals by revealing the signing of the World Cup winner Paul Pogba's elder brother. Florentin Pogba's signing is a statement of intent by Juan Ferrando's side. In his first interview, the 31-year-old also expressed his delight in moving to a new country and playing in a new championship.

The former AS Saint Etienne centre-back might be in the twilight of his career but has plenty of experience playing in the top professional leagues. He still has plenty to offer as the Mariners' manager explained the primary motive of signing him was to benefit their playing style. 

5. Marco Materazzi (Chennaiyin FC)

Marco Materazzi ISL
The 2006 FIFA World Cup winner led Chennaiyin to the title in ISL 2015 (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Italy's World Cup 2006 hero (villain for Zinedine Zidane) was the player-manager for Chennaiyin FC from 2014-16. Fans were excited as he signed with the Marina Machans, but the former Inter Milan player only played seven matches for them.

However, his real contribution lay in his managerial prowess. The centre-back implemented his aggressive hard-tackling style of football into Chennaiyin FC's playing style as they won the 2015 edition of the ISL. 

4. Alessandro Del Piero (Delhi Dynamos)

Del Piero is among the biggest football stars to play in the ISL (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Materazzi's more renowned international teammate Del Piero was brought in by Delhi Dynamos for the inaugural edition of the ISL. Juventus' ace set-piece specialist and star forward was one of the primary attractions for the fans.

Though he only made ten appearances and scored and assisted once each for the Dynamos, his arrival is one to be remembered. 

3. Diego Forlan (Mumbai City)

Diego Forlan
Diego Forlan scored a hat-trick against Kerala Blasters (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Atletico Madrid and Uruguayan legend Forlan was more recently part of the 2016 Mumbai City squad. The former Pichichi trophy and FIFA World Cup Golden Ball winner scored five times in 11 league outings leaving fans spellbound.

He also led the Islanders to the semi-finals as one of the fairytale transfers of the Indian Super League. 

2. Roberto Carlos (Delhi Dynamos)

Roberto Carlos Iconic ISL Players
Roberto Carlos played just three times for the erstwhile Delhi Dynamos (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Legendary Real Madrid and Brazil left-back Roberto Carlos was surely one of the top transfers in ISL history. The World Cup, Copa America and Champions League winner made only three appearances for Delhi Dynamos. He was more actively involved as the manager.

However, his menacing posture during the rare set-piece opportunities he got will forever be remembered by fans as most of them might have recalled and expected his famous outswinger against France in 1997.

1. Dimitar Berbatov (Kerala Blasters)

ISL Top transfers

Who else but the silky-toed Bulgarian to top the list of the most shocking transfers in ISL history? Manchester United's prolific former striker featured in a Kerala Blasters shirt during the 2017-18 season. He managed to score once in nine appearances.

Bulgaria's all-time top scorer caused waves in the Indian footballing world with his transfer to the Tuskers. Despite not scoring as much, he will not be forgotten anytime soon by the Manjappada or the opposition fans.

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