Over the years, many Indian players have made their way into the Indian Super League (ISL) and subsequently made a name for themselves in the narrative of Indian football.
This season again, several players in the I-League moved over to clubs in the cash-rich ISL. Let's take a look at the top five Indian players who are expected to make their debuts in the ISL count this season.
1) Ajith Kumar (Bengaluru FC)
The transfer of Nishu Kumar from Bengaluru FC to Kerala Blasters FC left a massive void in the Blues' defensive unit. With quality full-backs a rare commodity in the ISL, Carles Cuadrat had little choice but to tap into the I-League.
Enter Ajith Kumar and Joe Zoherliana. While Zoherliana made great strides in the 2019-20 I-League season, Ajith Kumar's signing comes as a major boost for the Blues. The 23-year-old, who played for Chennai City FC last season, is as solid in defence as they come. He will be joining a rather strong defensive unit with the likes of Juanan, Rahul Bheke, Pratik Chaudhuri, and Harmanjot Khabra.
2) Ishan Pandita (FC Goa)
When it comes to youngsters with potential, 22-year-old Ishan Pandita is perhaps the most talked-about name in the ISL. Having played for Lorca FC in the Spanish fledgling divisions, the youngster has now been signed by FC Goa. In any other season he would have been a squad rotation player, but is expected to start in the upcoming season.
Pandita is a striker who generally plays as a No. 9 in attack, but can also play on either wing. Pandita is expected to make a mark this season and is touted to succeed the likes of Bhaichung Bhutia and Sunil Chhetri.
3) Ritwik Das (Kerala Blasters)
Ritwik Das might not be the most recognisable name in the ISL at the moment, but a few of his performances for Real Kashmir in the I-League have been phenomenal to say the least. The upcoming season of the ISL will the 23-year-old play for Kerala Blasters on a one-year deal.
Das is comfortable playing in the heart of midfield, in front of the defence. He is predominantly a defensive midfielder who can pick a pass and play a long ball into the wings. However, with Vicente Gomez signing for the Blasters in a similar position, it remains to be seen whether of not Ritwik Das gets his chance this season.
4) Aman Chetri (Chennaiyin FC)
Similar to Ishan Pandita, 19-year-old Aman Chetri is the future of Indian football. The youngster has come through the ranks of Chennai-based ISL club and has impressed with his ability to find the back of the net on many occasions.
Chetri has made five appearances for Indian Arrows in the I-League, and has scored five goals in the process. However, with the likes of Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev and Esmael Goncalves in the squad, it remains to be seen whether the 19-year-old gets a run in the side or not.
5) VP Suhair (NorthEast United FC)
When it comes to the ISL, one might say that VP Suhair is a bit late to the party. However, the 28-year-old has a terrific record in front of goal. He also has the ability to create a few chances, something that has seen him play as the lone striker in attack with wingers making runs on either side.
Suhair was a mainstay of the Mohun Bagan attacking unit in the previous season, and was responsible for ensuring that the club finished the season at pole position. In fact, Bagan scored 39 points in 16 games, while East Bengal finished second with 23 points.Published 16 Oct 2020, 15:18 IST