FC Pune City – Eidur Gudjohnsen
FC Pune City’s Eidur Gudjohnsen is another UEFA Champions League winner to watch at ISL 2016. He’s scored over 150 professional goals for Iceland and 16 clubs, most notably Barcelona and Chelsea, making his career an even more nomadic one than fellow ISL marquee player Helder Postiga. He’s another versatile forward, having played many years as an attacking midfielder at Chelsea, en route to becoming a Blues legend. He made history in his international debut itself – his father and him both represented their country in the match, heartbreakingly however never being on the pitch at the same time, Eidur being a late substitute. He was the superstar and captain of international minnows Iceland for two decades, and Pune City would be hoping that he’d be instrumental in them improving from a lowly seventh place finish last season.
Kerala Blasters – Aaron Hughes
The only current internationally active marquee player in ISL 2016, Northern Ireland’s Aaron Hughes has elected to join Kerala Blasters. With 103 appearances, he is his country’s second most capped player (behind legendary Arsenal goalkeeper Pat Jennings) and the nation’s most capped outfield player, and has been included in the Irish Football Association’s Greatest Ever XI as voted by fans. Boasting a two-decade long club career with five English clubs, most notably Newcastle United, Hughes is an addition who would lend valuable experience to a Kerala Blasters side which finished rock bottom last season. The team would be anticipating his presence to ease their defensive worries on the pitch and their confidence worries off it.
NorthEast United – Didier Zokora
Didier Zokora has become Northeast United’s marquee signing for ISL 2016. Ivory Coast’s most capped player of all time, the defensive midfielder won 118 international caps in eighteen years, during which he played in three FIFA World Cups and eight African Cup of Nations tournaments. He was a starting fixture at many clubs across England, France, Spain and Belgium and would no doubt add some defensive mettle to a Northeast United that would be looking to reach the playoff stage for a first time.
That’s how the marquee players for each club look at the moment. If Postiga and Gudjohnsen can avoid the treatment table, they could be handfuls for their opponents. Lucio and Hughes will lend much-needed defensive stability to FC Goa and Kerala Blasters respectively, while Malouda and Zokora bring in bags of experience. We won’t be surprised if the versatile Forlan and Riise end up having brilliant seasons. The top level experience these players would give their teams will be interesting to say the least. We can’t wait for October 1st!
(Article written by Akarsh, Football content Analyst. Follow him @akarshvenkat )