The player draft for the 4th season of the Indian Super League is set to go on floor on the 23rd of July and the future of 199 Indian players lay in the hands of the 10 teams. With a minimum of 134 players set to be selected from the draft, Indian football fans would be keenly waiting to see who will be the players signed by their favourite sides and who will be the ones to miss out on the cash rich league. Meanwhile there are some big names in the mix as well, who in spite of the hefty prices and stringent budgets, would still find plenty of suitors.
We take a look at 6 exciting players to watch out for at the draft-
Arguably the best defender in the country right now and the Indian player of the year award winner, it was really surprising to see that the Delhi Dynamos decided not to retain the services of Anas for the forthcoming season. However with the Dynamos and newly inducted TATA Jamshedpur FC set to enter the draft in the first round, it is highly probable that Anas would be among the first picks on Sunday. Anas has impressed pundits and fans alike with his stellar performances, especially in the previous two editions of the ISL as well as in the I-league with Mohun Bagan.
Anas averaged 8 defensive actions (clearances, blocks and interceptions) and 2.4 successful tackles per match in the ISL3 while he also helped his Mohun Bagan side to a very impressive 9 clean sheets from 17 games in the recently concluded I-league season. With such impressive figures and form on his side, Anas’ price tag of 1.1 crores still looks to be a bargain.
Kotal has been a mainstay in the Indian National Team setup ever since his debut in 2015. Although just 23 years of age, Kotal has managed to oust experienced campaigners like Rino Anto and Aiborlong Khongjee down the pecking order with his consistent performances for club and country. Pritam was a regular presence in both the Atletico De Kolkata and Mohun Bagan starting line-ups in recent times, and it was a bit of a surprise the Kolkatan ISL franchise decided to retain Prabir Das over Kotal.
Kotal has excelled at both ends of the pitch having made an average of 2.75 successful tackles per game and also an average of1.83 successful cross per game in the ISL, a figure that betters even Premier League heavyweights. He stepped up his performance even further in the I-league, playing every single minute for Mohun Bagan alongside the likes of Anas and also contributing at the attacking front with a goal and 3 assists as well.
One of the shining stars of Aizawl FC’s amazing season, Jayesh Rane will surely attract a lot of attention at the draft. A youth product and subsequently a regular member of Mumbai FC, Jayesh made a lasting impression in the last season of ISL, with Marco Materrazzi preferring Rane over the likes of Jeje and Balwant Singh in the Chennayin FC attack. However he rose to a new level with his performances for Aizawl in the I-League and at a price of 49 lakhs, would be grabbing everyone’s attention.
Rane featured in each of the 18 matches played by Aizawl and scored 2 goals and also assisted a further 6 goals, which is the joint highest for an Indian player.
One of the very few Indian players who seem to have used their foreign stint to their advantage is Kean. Kean spent most of his youth career in the USA and under the tutelage of Ginalugi Zambrotta, he brought in all his foreign experience to excel as a creative force for the Delhi Dynamos last season. Although fitness issues meant he missed most of the I-league season with Mohun Bagan, he would be really keen to get back to the level of football he displayed during the last ISL.
Kean had some of the best stats for an Indian player in the last ISL. He was the leader for the most take on attempted and completed by an Indian player; he also had the most number of forward passes attempted by an Indian attacking player with a total of 498 passes. Along with 3 assists, Kean also scored a total of 4 goals, 2nd highest for an Indian player. At a price of 40 lakhs, a player of Kean’s quality looks an absolute bargain for any of the 10 sides.
Having attracted interest from various European clubs and with the experience of attending trials with Leicester City, Sunderland and Reading, Brandon has been one of the most highly rated footballers in India for quite a while now. However, in spite of a great start to his career in India with Sporting Goa, Brandon’s development took a hit with unsuccessful spells with both Mumbai City FC and Mohun Bagan. Brandon though returned to focus this I-league season with impressive performances for Churchill Brothers. Mostly playing in a support role to Anthony Wolfe or out wide for the Goan outfit, Brandon was one of the best Indian players of the I-league season.
Brandon scored 3 goals and assisted 6 goals for Churchill, topping the charts for the most assists by an Indian player alongside Jayesh Rane and Lalrindika Ralte.
A part of Shillong Lajong’s youthful side, Isaac was a revelation during the I-league season. Although a part of the Meghalayan club since 2015, Isaac formed a formidable partnership in midfield alongside Yuto Kinawaki this season, featuring in all 18 matches for Lajong. His distribution and set piece delivery has already earned him comparisons to Eugenson Lyngdoh and he has been touted to be the long-term replacement for the former Bengaluru FC midfielder in the Indian National team. The additional attraction of being an U21 player, would mean all the teams would be keen to secure the young midfielder.
Issac was among one of the very few Indian players to feature in each of their team’s fixtures and he scored twice and assisted 4 goals during the campaign.
Featured Image credit : Xtratime
(Article written by Mishal – SportsKPI football Analyst)