The Indian Super League (ISL) holds a very important place when in the grand narrative of Indian football. In the ISL, players not only get the opportunity to play alongside some of the greatest players from around the world, but they could earn a call-up to the national team.
Over the years, the ISL has been a feeder system for the Indian national football team. The arrival of players such as Sandesh Jhingan, Rahul Bheke, Ashique Kuruniyan, and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in the ISL is suitable evidence of what is to come. Needless to say, the country's position in the FIFA rankings have been impacted.
We look at five Indian transfers ahead of the 2020/21 ISL season that could have an impact on the upcoming tournament.
1) Ajith Kumar (Bengaluru FC)
This transfer window has been a rather important one for Blues. The loss of Nishu Kumar, a regular in the side, has prompted Carles Cuadrat and his men to seek defensive options in the transfer window. So far, Joe Zoherliana and Ajith Kumar have been signed from Aizawl FC and Chennai City FC respectively.
The signing of Ajith Kumar has been a rather significant one, to say the least. In the two seasons he featured for I-League side Chennai City FC, the 23-year old was a mainstay in the left-back position. This time around, he is expected to slot into the first team immediately. It remains to be seen what the kind of impact he can have in the upcoming ISL season.
2) Nishu Kumar (Kerala Blasters)
In the past few seasons, Nishu Kumar has been a full-back for Bengaluru FC. He is known for his calmness on the ball, especially while defending in the box. In addition to this, Kumar has a demonstrated history of being able to work alongside center-backs and wingers alike.
With the Kerala Blasters having lost out on retaining the services of stalwart Sandesh Jhingan, the spotlight on the 23-year old certainly increases. Kumar will be expected to marshal the left-back slot with Vicente Gomez and Sandeep Singh taking over as first-choice center-halves.
3) Phrangki Buam (FC Goa)
Perhaps one of the most exciting signings of the window is 19-year-old Phrangki Buam. The youngster has come through the fledgeling leagues in Shillong and has a penchant for putting the ball in the back of the net.
Buam’s pace and trickery give the FC Goa management the option of either deploying him on the wings or as a second striker. Needless to say, the youngster is certainly tipped to make an impact on the national side as well when the time is right.
4) Subrata Pal (Hyderabad FC)
33-year-old Subrata Pal is perhaps the most experienced goalkeeper in India at the moment. Of course, the spotlight might be on Gurpreet Sandhu but there rarely is an Indian football team sheet without Subrata Pal’s name.
While being a fantastic custodian between the sticks, Subrata Pal’s experience in the ISL and the national side is something that is sought after by several Indian clubs. Having signed with Hyderabad FC for the upcoming ISL season, he will be hoping for a repeat of the 2017-18 campaign with Jamshedpur, where he claimed the Golden Glove.
5) CK Vineeth (East Bengal)
In the first few seasons of the ISL, CK Vineeth was the man everyone wanted to watch. His pace, skill, and trickery made him the toast of the town. However, in recent times, the player's form has seemingly waned and appearances for the national side have dried up too.
Now, the 32-year-old has an opportunity to turn things around and get his career back on track with East Bengal. With this being the Kolkata-based club’s first venture into the ISL, Vineeth could not have asked for a better opportunity.