5 players of Indian origin who had a great 2017/18 season

Yan Dhanda alongside teammate Andrew Robertson
Yan Dhanda alongside teammate Andrew Robertson
Akshat Mehrish

Indian National Team has been making great strides in football in the recent years. The Blue Tigers currently sit just inside the Top 100 in the FIFA rankings and have qualified for AFC Asian Cup 2019 for just the fourth time in their history.

Although the national side is well balanced right now, integrating experienced and young players, there is always the debate of recruiting players of an Indian origin to the team. However, with strict citizenship laws in India, the chances of roping in these players are highly unlikely.

Even though seeing some of these players pull on a blue jersey seems like a distant dream, we can follow their progress and see how they have been performing in international settings.

Here is a list of 5 players of an Indian origin, who have had a terrific 2017/18 season.

#5 Yan Dhanda

Not the most notable name on the list but Dhanda does play for the most notable club out of all the players on the list. Liverpool secured Dhanda on a professional contract in 2015, just two years after joining the reds from West Bromwich Albion.

Much is expected of the youngster who is currently showcasing his skill on the Under-23 level. Dhanda has been a key player for the young side, featuring in seventeen games. He has so far scored 3 goals and added 1 assist to his tally as the reds occupy the third place in the U23 table, five points behind leaders Arsenal.

Dhanda's consistent performances for the U23s have shown that the youngster is the real deal. Plus, with a coach like Jurgen Klopp, who believes in promoting youth, it won't be long before the Birmingham born player comes knocking on the first-team door.

#4 Rhys Williams

A-League Rd 7 - Perth v Melbourne Victory
Rhys Williams in action against Perth

Fans who have been following English football since the turn of the century will recognize him in an instant. Williams was a part of a Middlesborough squad that had seen both the highs and the lows of the relegation/promotion scrap.

Williams's Indian heritage hails from his mother, who was born in Mumbai. He also has good connections to India as his brother, Aryn Williams is currently playing for the I-League side NEROCA.

In terms of international representation, Williams was a special case. He was eligible to represent Australia, Wales, England, and India. Williams ultimately chose to represent Australia and has been capped by the Socceroos fourteen times.

Williams was picked up by Australian side Melbourne Victory ahead of the 2017/18 A-League campaign on a two-year contract. He was assigned the number four shirt and was a part of the first team on thirty-two occasions as Melbourne Victory secured the A-League via the finals series.

#3 Diego Biseswar

Diego Biseswar
Diego Biseswar

Diego Biseswar grew up in Amsterdam, supporting fierce rivals Feyenoord, for whom he would go on to play one day. In fact, football was such a big influence on the Biseswar family, that the parents named their two sons after footballing legends, Diego and Romario.

Biseswar's name, in fact, came up when AIFF decided to approach Players of Indian Origin to come play for the national side, a proposition which was ultimately shot down.

The 30-year-old currently progressed through Feyenoord youth ranks and was eventually given a first-team spot. He was with the Rotterdam club for seven years before leaving for pastures new.

Biseswar is currently working his magic in Greece. He scored 3 goals and provided 4 assists in the 2017/18 season and helped his team PAOK Salonika finish second and qualify for the early rounds of the Champions League. PAOK are also in the final of the Greek Cup where they will face rivals AEK Athens.

#2 Neil Taylor

Aston Villa v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship
Neil Taylor in action for Aston Villa

Neil Taylor is perhaps the most recognizable out of all the players on the list. His popularity must be credited to Swansea City who signed the fullback from Wrexham in 2010, the year they achieved promotion to the Premier League. Taylor had to compete with Englishman Ben Davies for a spot initially but eventually made it his own, after Davies joined Tottenham.

It was surprising that Swansea let Taylor go, mainly due to the experience he brought to the team. He was transferred to Aston Villa midway through the 2016/17 season in exchange for Jordan Ayew, who went the other way.

Taylor made the Aston Villa starting eleven thirty times during the 2017/18 campaign, slotting in the left back position. The Welshman has been a part of a strong defensive unit, who have conceded just forty-two goals in forty-six games, the third lowest in the division.

Aston Villa and Taylor finished 4th in the regular season and will now contest for a spot in the 2018/19 Premier League as they head to the playoffs.

#1 Danny Batth

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Bristol City - Sky Bet Championship
Danny Batth is a fan favourite at Wolverhampton

Danny Batth is a famous man in Wolverhampton. He is the captain of the club who tore apart teams left, right, and centre to make their way through to the Premier League. He is the reason that Wolverhampton Wanderers have a fanbase called the 'Punjabi Wolves'. Batth has also made fans in the subcontinent after he expressed his desire to play for India, an opportunity he was ultimately not provided due to strict AIFF policies.

Although Batth didn't contribute that much on the playing field, his off-field leadership was enough to propel Wolves to the top flight.

Batth played twenty-one games for the second-division Champions, usually slotting in the right-sided centre-back position. During this time, he helped his side keep ten clean sheets. Batth also scored two goals for Wolves while maintaining a passing completion rate that's close to 80 percent.

Edited by Shambhu Ajith


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