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Indian Super League 2017/18: Top 10 players to watch out for

A look at the ten players to watch out for in this season’s Indian Super League

indian super league 2017 Updated: Nov 15, 2017 16:55 IST
Sarthak Bal
Former Manchester United forward Dimitar Berbatov will lead Kerala Blasters’ attack in the Indian Super League this season.
Former Manchester United forward Dimitar Berbatov will lead Kerala Blasters’ attack in the Indian Super League this season.(Man Utd via Getty Images)

The Indian Super League’s (ISL) doing away with the mandatory signing of marquee players in its fourth run will certainly provide Indian talents the opportunity to shine. But even then, the 2017/18 edition does not fall short on big names. Here’s a look at the top 10 players who could light up ISL:

Robbie Keane (Ireland)

Team: ATK

Position: Forward

Robbie Keane will miss the opening matches of the Indian Super League season. (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Ireland’s all-time leading goal scorer -- the 37-year old Robbie Keane -- is one of the biggest names that the ISL boasts this season. The Irish striker’s CV itself speaks volumes of his experience and talent. Having turned out for the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool, Aston Villa and West Ham United in England and for Inter Milan in a brief loan spell, it is safe to say that he will be ATK’s go to man. Keane has also won three Major League Soccer titles with LA Galaxy. The biggest challenge for him though, will be the weather, which if conquered, will make him a force to reckon with.

Dimitar Berbatov (Bulgaria)

Team: Kerala Blasters FC

Position: Forward

Great things are expected from arguably the most high-profile signing of former Manchester United frontman -- Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian, who is best known for his deft touches and impeccable finishing abilities, gathered from stints with clubs like Tottenham, Man United and Fulham, put him in good stead for his Indian sojourn. His move to the Kerala Blasters will also see him reunite with manager Renee Meulensteen, whom he played under at Fulham. Even at 36 years of age, Bulgaria’s record goal scorer is capable of producing magic in India. Like Keane, his biggest challenge would be to adapt to the Indian heat and humidity.

Iain Hume (Canada)

Team: Kerala Blasters FC

Position: Forward

The most successful goal getter in the history of the ISL, Iain Hume returns to the Kerala outfit following a two-year spell at ATK. The Scottish-born Canadian has 23 goals in the ISL so far; five for Kerala in the first season and 18 for ATK in the next two. He even managed to get his hands on the title with ATK’s second ISL triumph in 2016, which ironically, came at the hands of his current employers. Hume’s work ethic and familiarity with the conditions make him the most established threat in the ISL, someone who could easily change Kerala’s fortunes with Dimitar Berbatov to partner him up front.

Sunil Chhetri (India)

Team: Bengaluru FC

Position: Forward

Sunil Chhetri is Bengaluru FC’s talisman. (Getty Images)

India’s captain and leading goal scorer with 55 international goals, Sunil Chhetri will be tasked with leading Bengaluru FC’s charge in their debut ISL campaign. In the ISL, he has turned out for Mumbai City FC in the past two seasons, netting seven times in 2015, that included a hat-trick as he finished as the league’s highest Indian goal scorer that year. Chhetri has also won the I-League with three different clubs, namely Dempo, Churchil Brothers and Bengaluru FC. His off shore experiences include stints with MLS outfit Kansas City Wizards and Portuguese second division side Sporting CP B.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (India)

Team: Bengaluru FC

Position: Goalkeeper

Bengaluru FC’s acquisition of India’s No 1 goalie, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, for their maiden ISL campaign has been the highlight of their recent transfer activities. The 25-year-old returned to India from Norwegian club Stabaek FC after spending three years in Europe that included an Europa League outing. With heaps of experience and confidence from his European sojourn, Sandhu will look to give Bengaluru a winning start to their ISL journey as the guardian of their goal.

Jeje Lalpekhlua (India)

Team: Chennaiyin FC

Position: Forward

Currently one of India’s most valued and in-form strikers, Jeje Lalpekhlua has been part of Chennaiyin FC’s setup since the ISL’s inception in 2014. His Chennaiyin FC tally stands at a modest 13 goals, with 2015 turning out to be his best year with six goals. But given his recent run of form, which even won him All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) 2016 Player of the Year award, the Hnahthial-born striker is certainly expected to finish as one of the tournament’s leading goal scorers.

Marcelinho (Brazil)

Team: FC Pune City

Position: Forward

Marcelinho was the topscorer in last season’s Indian Super League. (AFP/Getty Images)

By far FC Pune City’s best signing this season; Marcelinho’s goal scoring exploits for Delhi Dynamos last term secured the Brazilian the Golden Boot award. The 30-year-old netted ten times and was equally fluent in providing for his side with five assists as Delhi romped to their best finish.

Emiliano Alfaro (Uruguay)

Team: FC Pune City

Position: Forward

Looking to revamp their goal scoring department, FC Pune City’s signing of Emiliano Alfaro to supplement Marcelinho may well be the answer. The Uruguayan, who has spent three seasons with Italian giants Lazio, was the league’s third highest goal-scorer last year with five goals for North East United FC. Having played with the likes of Edison Cavani and Diego Godin for his country, Emiliano can be expected to add more than his last season’s total with his new club.

Pritam Kotal (India)

Team: Delhi Dynamos FC

Position: Defender

Indian players have usually been deployed in the wider positions in the ISL, and Delhi Dynamo’s latest acquisition, Pritam Kotal has built his formidable reputation playing on the wing. The pacy right-back won the title with ATK last year and the I-League title with Mohun Bagan in 2015. A regular in Stephen Constantine’s national setup, Kotal, whose attacking prowess matches his defensive capabilities, was one of the most expensive defenders drafted this year.

Amrinder Singh (India)

Team: Mumbai City FC

Position: Goalkeeper

Amrinder Singh will hope to make his mark at Bengaluru FC this season. (Getty Images)

The second goalkeeper to make the list, Mumbai City FC’s Amrinder Singh, will be vital to their campaign this season. The 24-year-old was one of the biggest factors in Mumbai’s success last term -- keeping five clean sheets from six games. He was only beaten once, in the first leg of the semifinal against eventual champions ATK. Manager Alexandre Guimaraes’ retention of last year’s Golden Glove winner for a whopping 1.2 crore fee are indicative of Amrinder’s game changing abilities. A sound performance in the ISL could also earn him the No 1 spot in the national team.

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