Indian Super League (ISL) has always been a promising platform for the budding footballers in the nation. Since its inception in 2014, the league has showcased, developed and carved numerous players across the country.
In the early years, the league depended too much on foreign signings, limiting the growth potential of the local players. However, in a change of scenario, we have seen Indian personnel taking up vital roles for their respective clubs. All the ten clubs now have a well-established youth system, which has been scouting and promoting the talented ones. Even those players, who were for a long time associated with other leagues in the country, have been able to secure contracts with ISL clubs.
Encouragingly, the managers are rotating their players regularly, and we have seen a new bunch of players plying their trade in the league. Each season has delivered fresh faces to the Indian football circuit, and the ongoing edition is nowhere behind.
In this article, we look at the five best Indian debutants from this season of ISL.
#5 Rakesh Pradhan (NorthEast United)
NorthEast United have had a mixed start to their season, with 10 points from seven matches. However, the four draws and one defeat hasn't stopped Robert Jarni from offering playing time to his young guns. One player who has made the maximum of his opportunity at The Highlanders is Rakesh Pradhan.
The 22-year-old was given a chance in their opening fixture against Bengaluru FC and helped them maintain a clean sheet. Pradhan has played every minute this season, overcoming competition from experienced campaigners like Shouvik Ghosh in the squad.
The natural right-back has played most of his time on the opposite flank but has adapted to the new role brilliantly. Rakesh Pradhan has completed 19 tackles and 38 clearances from seven matches. On the offensive side, he has been impressive with 23 crosses and an average of over 32 passes per game. The Shillong Lajong academy product also assisted Asamoah Gyan's goal against FC Goa.
The fullback has developed an excellent understanding with the defensive midfielders and is impressive on the overlap. Rakesh Pradhan has become an inevitable part of Jarni's plans and has already grabbed attention from the opening phase of his debut season.