Another season of the ISL (Indian Super League) is around the corner, but it will be one without spectators in the stands owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The matches are scheduled to be held in three venues in Goa, with the competition expected to commence in the third week of November.
With the players starting to assemble for the pre-season, ISL clubs are looking to fill the final vacant positions in their rosters. In a positive change, the current ISL transfer window saw a lot of promising player transfers.
The ISL teams have made impressive use of the funds at their disposal, bringing on board a mix of experience and youth. With several more exciting deals in the pipeline, the seventh edition of the ISL promises to be a great one in terms of quality.
The month of September saw the ISL transfer game gain pace as clubs made moves to strengthen their squads. Here, we look at the top five signings made in the ISL this month.
Top 5 ISL signings in September
#1 Steven Taylor - Odisha FC
Odisha FC's impressive moves in the transfer market continued with the arrival of Englishman Steven Taylor.
The 34-year-old joined the Newcastle Academy in 1995 and rose through the ranks to leave as a proven centre-back in 2016. In 13 years of first-team football, Taylor represented the Magpies in 268 games, which included a season in the Championship.
Taylor then had short stints in the Major League Soccer (MLS) and lower divisions of England before shifting to Australia. There he played 50 games for A-League club Wellington Phoenix before choosing ISL team Odisha as his next destination.
The defender has a lot of football left in him and will be a worthy asset in OFC's young team. Given his vast Premier League experience, Taylor is undoubtedly a top signing in the ISL this season.
#2 Vicente Gomez - Kerala Blasters
Kerala Blasters have strengthened their midfield with the signing of Spaniard Vicente Gomez. The 32-year-old, who signed from Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga 2, operates as a defensive midfielder and could be a vital player in Kibu Vicuna's plans at the Blasters.
Gomez played 75 matches in La Liga for UD Las Palmas where he scored three goals and provided two assists. He joined Deportivo before the 2018-19 season and appeared in 60 games before heading to India.
With an experience of ten seasons in the top two Spanish football divisions, Vicente Gomez could be the right person to guide the Blasters' young Indian contingent. The player's impressive profile and the fact that he is only in his early thirties makes Gomez one of the top signings in the ISL this season.
#3 James Donachie - FC Goa
Another foreign defender to keep an eye on is FC Goa's Australian signing James Donachie. The centre-back has moved to ISL on a one-year loan deal from A-League club Newcastle Jets.
Donachie rose to the limelight with Brisbane Roar before signing for Melbourne Victory in 2016. After two seasons there, the Aussie joined Korean club Jeonnam Dragons where he played 15 games. He returned to Melbourne in 2019 and moved to Newcastle Jets in August before agreeing to join ISL team FC Goa in a loan move.
At 6' 4", the 27-year-old could be a towering presence at the back and a threat in aerial attacks. With three A-League titles and AFC Champions League experience under his belt, James Donachie is a superb addition in Juan Ferrando's roster.
#4 Sandesh Jhingan - ATK Mohun Bagan
One of the most high-profile Indian player transfers in the ISL this season has been that of Sandesh Jhingan who moved to ATK Mohun Bagan.
The India international, who ended his six-year stay with Kerala Blasters in May, attracted interest from several ISL clubs including Bengaluru FC, FC Goa and Mumbai City.
The current ISL champions were the ones who eventually won the race for Jhingan's signature, signing the player on a five-year deal which makes him one of the highest-paid Indian players.
At ATK Mohun Bagan, Sandesh Jhingan will have an interesting project with continental competition in the AFC Cup along with the ISL campaign to look forward to.
With a star-studded team, at least on paper, the 27-year-old will be eyeing nothing less than the ISL title in his first season outside the Blasters. The defensive duo of Jhingan-Tiri could be a source of huge concern for the opposition attackers in the ISL.
#5 Stephen Eze - Jamshedpur FC
Nigerian centre-back Stephen Eze has been identified as Tiri's replacement in Jamshedpur FC's backline.
The 26-year-old started his career in 2013 with Nigerian club Lobi Stars. He then plied his trade for Sunshine Stars and Ifeanyi Ubah in his home country before moving to Bulgarian side Lokomotiv Plovdiv where he played 65 matches and scored three goals in as many seasons.
Eze has represented the Nigerian national team in 13 games, a tally that includes the African Nations Championship in 2018.
The 6' 6" defender could be a dominating figure in the backline for Jamshedpur FC. He is a no-nonsense defender with handy aerial attacking prowess, something that could make Eze a hit in the ISL.
Along with the experienced Peter Hartley, Stephen Eze could form a formidable defensive pair for Jamshedpur FC in the ISL this season.