The Indian Super League has seen its fair share of top footballing players plying their trade in the country. But the clubs have had to delve deep into their pockets as these superstars of the game did not come cheap. Ahead of the upcoming ISL season, teams have loosened their purses yet again to and a few of them have brought on board global stars like Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane.
Though the Indian players do not earn close to their foreign counterparts, this season has seen their stocks rise by over 100%. But ruling the rooster as always have been the foreigners in the league. Let us take a look at the five highest earning players of all time in the history of the Indian Super League:
#5 Nicolas Anelka (Mumbai City)
The journeyman arrived in India for the inaugural season for the Indian Super League in 2014. He was Mumbai City's marquee signing and was paid a huge sum of ?5.4 crores for just over two months of footballing action.
He then became the club's player cum manager in the following season but earned not more than ?4 crores in 2015. Anelka could not bring his A-game to the country and largely underperformed both as a player as well as a manager. However, his arrival created quite a buzz in the league.
#4 Diego Forlan (Mumbai City)
Mumbai City vied for Diego Forlan's signature for two years before finally landing their man in 2016. The 2010 World Cup's Golden Boot winner arrived last season and instantly became the league's highest paid player as Mumbai City FC shelved out ?6.6 crores for his services.
His stay with the Blues of Mumbai was a success as Forlan carried the Blues to the semifinals in 2016, scoring five goals on the way. The Uruguayan, however, ended his ISL stint on a bad note with the striker picking up a red card in the semis against Atletico De Kolkata.
#3 Dimitar Berbatov (Kerala Blasters)
The most exciting signing for the upcoming season of the ISL, Berbatov will be the third highest paid player in the history of Indian football. The Bulgarian has penned a one season deal with Kerala Blasters and has straightway elevated the club's stance to be one of the favourites for the coming up campaign.
Berbatov will earn ?7.5 crores during his stay in India and is the club's highest ever earner. Along with all the goals and his silky touches, the most important influence that Berbatov will have is on Kerala Blasters' forward, CK Vineeth.
#2 Robbie Keane (ATK)
The Northern Irish forward is one of the most eye-catching acquisitions for the upcoming season. Robbie Keane is signed up by the two-time champions, ATK with the former Liverpool striker expected to lead the line and is one of the early contenders for the ISL golden boot.
Keane is expected to earn an amount in the range of ?6.6-9 crores with a weekly wage of £50,000-£70,000. The veteran forward will be reunited with Spurs teammate Teddy Sheringham at ATK with Sheringham being the Kolkata based side's head coach.
#1 Alessandro Del Piero (Delhi Dynamos)
The former Juventus star, Alessandro Del Piero was not only the marquee player for Delhi Dynamos in the first season, the Italian was Indian Super League's premier attraction. His signing grabbed eyeballs and brought ISL to the attention of the world. Del Piero was paid a staggering salary of ?10.8 crores in 2014, making him the highest paid player in the history of Indian football.
That amount is still the benchmark for all the foreign signings in the country. But the forward failed to perform according to the expectations and could not prove worth to the hype. His example led the clubs to splurge the cash economically in the future editions which is why Del Piero is still number one in this list.