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Top five most improved players in the ISL this season

Written by: Aniket Surve

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One of the silver linings of this long season is that youngsters are stepping up in the absence of injured superstars.

The introduction of the Indian Super League has given a great chance to young local players to showcase their talent in front of a large audience as well as on a high level. The ISL has not only helped the already established players to step up a level but also the youngsters to learn and develop as quality players. 

Digging deeper into the ISL teams, Khel Now presents five such young players who have shown massive development in their game so far this season.

5. Jerry Mawihmingthanga (Jamshedpur FC)

The 20-year-old has been one of the standout performers of the season so far. The winger has been a vital part of Jamshedpur FC's attacking department having been involved in five goals. With his talent to run at defences and ability to provide pinpoint passes, Jerry has been a massive threat to the opposition.

Before this season, Jerry was just another young player with amazing talent. The DSK Shivajians academy graduate was a part of NorthEast United in the 2015-16 season. Failing to impress the coach, he played just a single game in the entire season. After an unsuccessful stint with NorthEast, the youngster returned to DSK Shivajians and was made part of the club's senior team. He received regular starts in the team but failed to captivate in the given opportunities. With just two goals, Jerry had a below average season with people questioning his talent.

Jerry scored the quickest goal in ISL history against Kerala Blasters

Since then the youngster has shown a massive development in his game and has regained the faith of fans by proving his mettle with ISL's newbie Jamshedpur FC.

4. Sarthak Golui (FC Pune City)

The West Bengal born youngster has been terrific in defence for FC Pune City so far this season. Sarthak had limited opportunities with the I-League giants Mohun Bagan before seeking a loan move to FC Pune City. The youngster came to limelight in a very tragic way after his poor defending cost Mohun Bagan the chance of getting through the knockout stages of AFC Cup in 2017.

Golui opened the scoring for FC Pune City in a crucial match against Bengaluru FC

Forgetting the past, the youngster has developed into a budding star. With the passing accuracy of above 60%, quality tackles and timely clearances the ex- Mohun Bagan player has produced quality performance this season. The youngster has been open to playing at any position in the back four which shows how versatile and mature he has become. Golui also has three assists and a goal to his name this season adding much to his amazing run at FC Pune City.

3. Anirudh Thapa (Chennaiyin FC)

Thapa scored a perfect volley for the Marina Machans in their defeat against NorthEast United

The 20-year-old has been a regular name in the Indian football circuit in recent seasons. The midfielder has adorned the national jersey at the U-16, U-19 and U-23 level but has been highly inconsistent with his performances. Losing possession at crucial times, lacking physicality to battle with the opposition were considered as major flaws in his game. 

The youngster was a part of the Chennaiyin side in the 2015-16 season but failed to grab game time. Following that, Thapa was loaned to Minerva Punjab in search of regular football where he had an average season. Seeing his regular growth he was again included in Chennaiyin's squad for this season.

Thapa has been brilliant this entire campaign. One of his notable performances came against  ATK, a game in which Chennaiyin came from behind to win 2-1 after trailing by a goal at halftime. The amazing performance was rewarded with the Hero of the Match award. With his breathtaking runs and quality passes the youngster has been a constant threat to opponents. His amazing game sense has helped him to get regular starts and be an integral part of the team's plans. 

2. Rohit Kumar (FC Pune City)

Before signing for FC Pune City, Rohit had limited opportunities with DSK Shivajians. The midfielder had an average outing with the Pune based former I-League side spending half the season on the bench. Even in the limited game-time he received, the youngster showed promise. He just needed to play regularly to bring out the best in him which he is getting at Pune City.

The youngster has turned all the attention towards him after displaying quality defensive and attacking skills game after game. With his ability to regain possession quickly and nullify the opposition's attacks with strong tackles and interceptions as well as attacking when needed, Rohit has been a quality alround performer and a prime contender for the ISL's Emerging Player of the Season award.

Rohit Kumar scored a stunner against the reigning champions


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1- Subhashish Bose (Bengaluru FC)

Bose has been tremendous with his attacking runs and last man tackles

The 22-year-old left-back has already showcased the amount of talent he has while playing for Sporting Goa and Mohun Bagan in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 season respectively. The full-back's over-aggressiveness was the only flaw tarnishing his stellar performances. After getting drafted into Bengaluru's squad, Bose has learned how to balance his defensive and attacking approaches which have made him the most improved player this season.

Subhashish has been rock solid for Bengaluru this season. The Bengali defender has played 14 games so far and has only failed once in a game in which he got a red card and conceded a late penalty against Delhi Dynamos. Apart from that incident, Bose has been a find of the season. The attacking left-back not only operates in the defence but also makes threatening runs on the left flank.

The improvement he has made after joining the Blues is very credible and if he continues on the same path, in no time the defender will find himself in national colours.

Published: Thu Feb 22, 2018 06:30 PM IST

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